Gregory Hawkins’ Alajmal, the reigning novice champion, slipped past a dead-game Fog Island and drew clear to a 1 1/2-length victory in the $50,000 Carolina Cup, the featured race of the 81st Carolina Cup at Camden, S.C., on Saturday, March 30. Anne Pape’s Fog Island ran on well to take the place spot, 5 3/4 lengths clear of Forgotten Man in third. Duc de Savoie finished fourth before a large, sun-basked crowd for the Carolina Cup.
Ridden by champion jockey Ross Geraghty, Alajmal ran the Carolina Cup’s 2 1/8 miles in 4:04.40 on firm turf at Springdale Race Course. Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot said Alajmal prepared well for the novice stakes for horses in their first seasons of competition over fences. She sharpened him for the Carolina Cup with an easy victory in a training flat race at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase a week earlier.
“He’s been doing everything we’ve asked of him,” she said. “After the Aiken race, he had very light work.” Elliot credited jockey Richard Boucher for working Alajmal in preparation for the spring National Steeplechase Association season.
Randleston Farm’s Duc de Savoie broke sharply from the flag-fall and opened a large early lead under Danielle Hodsdon. Anne Pape’s Fog Island, ridden confidently by Robbie Walsh, patiently bided his time for the first mile and took command as the field passed the finish line the first time.
Geraghty sent Alajmal after Fog Island on the final turn, and the 2012 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle winner resisted stoutly when Alajmal challenged him. Fog Island, trained by Richard Valentine, jumped the last fence in front but could not hold off Alajmal in the final sixteenth of a mile.
Alajmal secured last year’s novice championship with a victory in a Saratoga Race Course optional allowance and a second in the William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 27. Unplaced behind Fog Island in the Foxbrook at the Far Hills Races, Alajmal ran a strong third in the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) at the end of the 2012 season.
Bred by Shadwell Farm, the five-year-old First Samurai gelding was acquired by Elliot for owner Hawkins at Shadwell’s sale at Newmarket, England, in October 2010.