Ten rising stars of American Steeplechasing have been nominated to the $50,000 Carolina Cup, the featured event of the 82nd annual Carolina Cup Races in Camden, S.C., on Saturday, March 29.
The Carolina Cup welcomes spring to the Carolinas and annually attracts one of horse racing’s largest crowds. First post time is 1:30 p.m.
Known as novices, the sport’s rising stars are in their first seasons of racing over fences in National Steeplechase Association competition, and the sport’s leading trainers nominated several top prospects to the Carolina Cup. Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard nominated two of last year’s leading novice earners, Martini Brother and Powerofone, both of whom are owned by 2013 champion owner Bill Pape.
Martini Brother won last summer’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga Race Course and subsequently finished a good third in Saratoga’s top steeplechase race, the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Powerofone scored his maiden victory at last year’s Carolina Cup meet and placed in two novice stakes, a second in the William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at Belmont Park and a third in a division of the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J.
Richard Valentine, a leading Virginia-based trainer, nominated three contenders to the Carolina Cup. Ann Pape’s Fog Island finished second in last year’s Carolina Cup and won the 2012 Foxbrook.
Valentine also trains Riverdee Stable’s Apse, a winner in an optional allowance at Saratoga. The third nominee from Valentine’s stable is the Elkstone Group’s Albany Road, who finished third in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle in Georgia before winding up the year with a sixth-place finish in an allowance hurdle at the Colonial Cup meet.
Jack Fisher, whose two wins on the Colonial Cup card earned him a tie with Sheppard for the year’s champion trainer title, is represented by Sheila J. Williams’ Easy Reach, a two-time winner in the claiming ranks last year.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot nominated Gil Johnston’s Alburj, who finished second in a division of the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and then closed out the season with a fourth in the Colonial Cup allowance hurdle on the Springdale Course.
Owner-trainer Kate Dalton nominated Cat Feathers, steeplechasing’s leading female competitor in 2012. She finished second in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes and wrapped up the season with a second in the Colonial Cup’s allowance hurdle.
Here, in alphabetical order, are the 10 nominees to the $50,000 Carolina Cup:
Albany Road. 2007 ch. g., Mr. Greeley—Jane’s the Name, by Trempolino. Owner: Elkstone Group. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 2013 NSA record: 6-1-1-1, $31,618. Won maiden hurdle at Fair Hill Races in late May before good second in Saratoga optional allowance. Finished sixth in Colonial Cup’s allowance hurdle after third in Steeplechase at Callaway’s AFLAC Supreme Hurdle.
Alburj. 2007 b. g., Dynaformer—Rumansy, by Theatrical (Ire): Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Janet Elliot. 2013 NSA record: 3-1-1-0, $26,724. Came back late to take second money in second division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won maiden hurdle at Queen’s Cup before second in sanctioned open flat race at Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase Closed 2013 season with fifth in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle.
Apse. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Arch—In Reverence, by Alysheba. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 2013 NSA record: 4-2-1-0, $53,400. Won maiden claiming race for $25,000 tag at Atlanta Steeplechase and then notched Saratoga victory in optional allowance. Also ran second in Virginia Gold Cup starter allowance hurdle.
Cat Feathers. 2008 dk. b. or br. f., Catienus—Mistress Hemming, by Quiet American. Owner-trainer: Kate Dalton. 2013 record: 6-0-2-1, $32,758. 2012 record: 4-1-1-0, $58,500. 2011 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. 2012 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion. Winner of 2012 Mrs. Ogden Phipps at Saratoga finished second in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords for the second straight year in 2013. Finished third in Colonial Downs’ $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3). Wrapped up 2013 season with second in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle.
Easy Reach. 2006 dk. b. or br. g, Arch–Brig, by Two Punch. Owner: Sheila J. Williams. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2013 record: 6-2-1-0, $21,480. Won maiden claimer at Queen’s Cup and then won open claimer at Fair Hill. Also finished second in claiming hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway.
Fog Island. 2006 b. g., Rossini—Orchid Island, by Broad Brush. Owner: Anne Pape. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 2013 record: 3-0-1-0, $12,750. 2012 record: 5-1-0-0, $47,400. 2011 record: 8-1-1-0, $24,680. Abbreviated 2013 season began with second in Carolina Cup. Subsequently pulled up in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase and ran fourth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Stakes. Won the 2012 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J.
Martini Brother. (146) 2008 dk. b. or br. g., A.P. Indy—Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2013 record: 6-3-0-1, $95,250. 2012 record: 3-0-0-1, $2,250. Won his first three races of the year, including a victory in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Also won Atlanta maiden race and defeated more experienced rivals in Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle at Radnor Hunt Races. Finished a good third in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) before disappointing sixth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes.
Powerofone. 2009 b. g., A.P. Indy—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2013 record: 8-2-1-2, $59,310. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,250. Tired late to finish third in the second division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Finished game second in William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at Belmont Park. Started 2013 with two wins, in Carolina Cup maiden race and optional allowance at the Atlanta Steeplechase. Ended year with fourth in Noel Laing at Montpelier and third in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle.
Sporty. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Smarty Jones—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: Rock Ford Stables. Trainer: Julie Gomena. 2013 record: 4-1-0-0, $19,500. 2012 record: 3-1-0-0, $16,050. Tuned with win in Aiken Spring Steeplechase training flat race. Began 2013 season with score in Dogwood Classic allowance hurdle. Subsequently finished fifth in a division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and sixth in AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway. Won maiden victory at the 2012 Colonial Cup meet. Was a $40,000 claim from a Racing Hall of Fame trainer in 2011.
Top Striker. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy–Two’s Cozy, by Cozzene. Owner: Mrs. George Sensor. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. 2013 record: 3-1-1-0, $17,700. Broke through for maiden win over hurdles at the 2013 Colonial Cup meet after second in maiden hurdle at the Charleston Cup. Tuned for Carolina Cup with third in Aiken Spring Steeplechase training flat race on March 22.