Gil Johnston’s Syros, who rose from a maiden claiming victory to win a Saratoga allowance hurdle and place in two stakes races last year, is among seven nominees to the $75,000 Carolina Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., on Saturday, March 28. First post time for the 82nd annual Carolina Cup meet is 1:30 p.m.
Always among the best attended meets on the National Steeplechase Association circuit, the Carolina Cup offers $145,000 in purses for races over National Fences and timber fences.
Trained by Jack Fisher, the NSA’s reigning champion trainer, Syros earned $90,600 last year and ranked as the third-leading earner among novices, the sport’s rising stars in their first seasons of racing over fences. The Carolina Cup is limited to novices.
Syros finally figured out the jumping game at the Virginia Gold Cup last May, when he romped home by more than 30 lengths in a maiden claiming hurdle, and he then finished second in a starter allowance at the High Hope Steeplechase in Lexington, Ky.
After a flat win at Belmont Park for a $35,000 claiming tag, he finished third in a Saratoga allowance hurdle and then won a Saratoga allowance race by more than five lengths. Fifth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, he concluded the season with second-place finishes in two novice stakes, the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J., and the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia.
Also nominated to the 2 1/8-mile Carolina Cup were two past winners of leading novice stakes. Anne Pape’s Fog Island, trained by Richard Valentine, won the 2012 Foxbrook and placed third last year. Where’s the Beef, now owned by Timothy Gardner’s Welcome Here Farm, won the 2013 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle and was failed to finish in his two starts last year.
Rock Ford Stables’ Sporty was nominated for another shot at the Carolina Cup after finishing fourth last year. Trained by Julie Gomena, Sporty subsequently finished third in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes and Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes.
Trainer Lilith Boucher nominated Perfect Peace Racing Stable’s Marq Your Bible and William E. Riddle’s Absolum. An overpowering maiden winner at Foxfield Fall in September, Marq Your Bible subsequently won a Virginia-bred flat race at the International Gold Cup and finished third in an allowance hurdle at Callaway. Absolum won an optional allowance hurdle at the Middleburg Spring Races.
A newcomer to American racing is Daybreak Stable’s Diplomat, who was purchased by trainer Jimmy Day from Dermot Weld’s stable in Ireland. Although winless in eight starts over fences and on the flat last year, the Kentucky-bred by top sire Kitten’s Joy won two Irish hurdle races in 2013.
Here are the nominees to the $75,000 Carolina Cup:
Absolum. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Fantasticat—Zenon, by Hawkster. Owner: William E. Riddle. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. 2014 record: 3-1-0-0, $12,000. Won Middleburg Spring optional allowance hurdle last April before losing rider in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) and falling in Parx allowance hurdle. Won 2013 Middleburg Spring maiden claimer by 12 lengths before second in Radnor’s Thompson Memorial and third in a Parx optional allowance.
Diplomat. 2009 b. g., Kitten’s Joy—Waki Affair, by Miswaki. Owner: Daybreak Stable. Trainer: Jimmy Day. 2014 NSA record: No starts. Veteran competitor in Ireland for trainer Dermot Weld mixed hurdle racing with flat starts but was winless in eight outings in 2014. Best was a third on the flat in Killarney in August. Had two victories over hurdles in 2013. Bred by champion owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and is a full brother to stakes-placed Kitten Love.
Fog Island. 2006 b. g., Rossini—Orchid Island, by Broad Brush. Owner: Anne Pape. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 2014 record: 5-0-0-2, $21,250. Finished third in his final two 2014 starts, Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap. Finished fourth in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes after fifth in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Won the 2012 Foxbrook.
Marq Your Bible. 2009 dk. B. or br. g., Marquetry—Red Devilette, by Oh Say. Owner: Perfect Peace Racing Stable. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. 2014 record: 9-2-2-2, $44,475.Virginia-bred won a state-bred allowance race on the flat at the International Gold Cup and then was third in the Crown Royal allowance hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway. Won maiden victory by more than 30 lengths at Foxfield Fall.
Sporty. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Smarty Jones—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: Rock Ford Stables. Trainer: Julie Gomena. 2014 record: 4-0-0-2, $13,500. Finished fourth in Carolina Cup before third in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Stakes and in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Fell after being bothered in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, his final start of the year.
Syros. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Meridiana (Ger), by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2014 NSA record: 9-2-3-2, $90,600. Closed out 2014 with second-place finishes in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and AFLAC Supreme Hurdle. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after win in Saratoga allowance hurdle. Also finished third in Saratoga allowance hurdle on July 23. Won Virginia Gold Cup maiden claimer by more than 30 lengths on May 3, then was second in Jay Trump starter allowance hurdle at the High Hope Steeplechase on May 18. Won a Belmont Park $35,000 claimer on June 15.
Where’s the Beef. 2008 gr. or r. g., Rockport Harbor—Clair de Lune, by Regal Classic. Owner: Welcome Here Farm. Trainer: Brian E. Murphy. 2014 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $0. In two 2014 starts, was pulled up in the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes and lost his rider in a $30,000 open claimer at Radnor. Claimed for $25,000 by current owner at Parx Racing flat race last June. Won 2013 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle before being pulled up in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle. Won 2013 Foxfield Fall maiden hurdle by 18 lengths after second in tough Sport of Kings maiden hurdle at the Atlanta Steeplechase.