Alajmal and Fog Island, novice stakes winners who finished within 1 1/2 lengths of each other in the Carolina Cup, will resume their rivalry on Saturday, April 27, in the $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, the featured race of the 18th annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase at Brooklandwood Race Course near Charlotte, N.C. First post time for the six-race program is 1:30 p.m.
Gregory Hawkins’ Alajmal drew away to a stylish victory in the Carolina Cup for novices at the Springdale Course in Camden, S.C., on March 30. Like the Carolina Cup, the Queen’s Cup is limited to novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences.
Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Janet Elliot, reigning novice champion Alajmal previously had finished a strong third against more seasoned competitors in the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) on Nov. 17. Ross Geraghty has the mount. Elliot also will saddle Gene Weymouth’s Wild for Gold, who finished eighth in the Colonial Cup in his most recent start. Bernie Dalton will ride.
Anne Pape’s Fog Island, second in the Carolina Cup, had gotten the better of Alajmal when he scored an impressive victory on soft ground in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 20. Alajmal was pulled up in the Foxbrook. Trainer Richard Valentine named Robbie Walsh to ride Fog Island.
The 2 3/8-mile Queen’s Cup also attracted the Carolina Cup’s third finisher, Betsy Mead’s Forgotten Man, who finished 7 1/4 lengths behind Alajmal. In his previous start, Forgotten Man had taken third money in the Foxbrook. Jeff Murphy will ride for trainer Doug Fout.
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard and jockey Darren Nagle have sizable leads in their respective standings, and they will team up with Sheppard’s Barnstorming, who finished fifth in the Carolina Cup.
Returning to the races after an impressive start over fences in 2011 is Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff. The former Triple Crown competitor—fifth in the 2009 Belmont Stakes (Gr. 1)—won a Penn National optional allowance hurdle before going to the sidelines. Trainer Jack Fisher named Sean Flanagan to ride.
Completing the field is leading owner Irv Naylor’s Black Quartz, an optional allowance winner at the Radnor Hunt Races last May who would be making his first start since being pulled up in two Saratoga Race Course novice stakes, the Jonathan Kiser and Michael G. Walsh. Paddy Young will ride for trainer Brianne Slater.