A new season of National Steeplechase Association racing begins Saturday, March 24, in the historic horse community of Aiken, S.C., and the 46th annual Aiken Spring Steeplechase will feature a well-matched group of jump newcomers in the featured $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup.
The Budweiser Imperial Cup, a two-mile race over National Fences, will highlight a six-race program that heralds the arrival of spring in South Carolina. First post time is 1 p.m. at Ford Conger Field.
The Budweiser Imperial Cup for novices, which are horses in their first seasons of racing over fences, attracted three entrants.
Carrying the Budweiser Imperial Cup’s 156-pound highweight is champion owner Irvin S. Naylor’s Pullyourfingerout, who won two steeplechase races in England before he was imported last fall. In his U.S. debut, he did not handle the yielding turf of the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey and was pulled up. Trainer Joseph W. Delozier III named Ross Geraghty to ride the five-year-old Irish-bred gelding.
Jockey Richard Boucher is returning from a back injury to ride Mede Cahaba Stable’s Class Indian, who is trained by his wife, Lilith. The five-year-old Waquoit gelding won his maiden victory last spring at the Radnor Hunt Races in Pennsylvania, tired and was pulled up in an International Gold Cup optional allowance in Virginia on Oct. 15, and finished the year with a fourth-place finish in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia on Nov. 5. Class Indian carries 150 pounds under the Budweiser Imperial Cup’s allowance conditions.
Completing the field is owner-trainer Michele Sanger’s Birthday Beau, who will be making his first start since finishing unplaced in the 2010 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle. The seven-year-old Silic gelding scored a dominant victory in the 2010 Celebrate Aiken, an allowance hurdle. Roddy Mackenzie will be in the saddle. Birthday Beau carries 153 pounds.