Morningstar Farm’s Indigo Heart, always prominent under Jack Doyle, took the lead on the second circuit of the Aiken Horse Park course and drew clear to a 4 1/2-lengh victory in the Aiken Spring Steeplechase’s featured $30,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup on Saturday.
Rosbrian Farm’s Barhanpour, the lightweight in the ratings handicap hurdle, came on to take second, a half-length ahead of third finisher Dapper Dan.
The first two finishers are trained by Ricky Hendriks, who owns Morningstar Farm and was a close second in last year’s trainer standings by both wins and earnings. Indigo Heart ran the Budweiser Imperial Cup’s two miles in 3:40 4/5 on firm turf.
Morningstar acquired Indigo Heart from Rosbrian over the winter, and Rosbrian had purchased the Heart of the Storm gelding privately before a Shawan Downs ratings handicap victory last September.
Hendriks trained him on the Unionville, Pa., farm, worked him at the Fair Hill Training Center, and then shipped him to Camden, S.C., to await the race.
“He likes the front end, and he keeps galloping,” Hendriks said.