For the first time in its history, the $50,000 Carolina Cup will be run as a ratings handicap, and Saturday’s historic race attracted a field worthy of a graded stakes with five highweights.
The 87th annual Carolina Cup race meet marks the arrival of spring in South Carolina’s Midlands, and this year’s edition of the Camden tradition attracted strong, full fields for its six races. First post time is 1:30 p.m. at Springdale Race Course, and the races can be viewed on the NSA Network’s livestream.
The Carolina Cup is limited to competitors with National Steeplechase Association ratings of 130 or lower, and five of the prospective starters previously had been rated at 130 by the three-member ratings committee and thus share the 158-pound highweight.
Heading the quality-loaded Carolina Cup is local favorite Show Court, owned by South Carolina attorney Mark W. Buyck Jr. and trained in Camden by Arch Kingsley Jr. The Irish-bred jumped into the ranks of Grade 1 winners last summer when he won Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial.
He closed his 2018 season with an easy victory in an allowance hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia. Bernie Dalton, who also is based in Camden, has the mount.
Kingsley also will saddle Carrington Holdings’ Boss Man, the strapping winner of Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes last September. Thomas Garner will ride the Florida-bred, who carries 155 pounds with a 127 rating.
Jack Fisher, the champion trainer for the last seven years, will saddle two highweights among his three entrants. DASH Stable’s Ice It broke through for a victory in last November’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle for novices and will be ridden by Jack Doyle.
Ice It shares a 158-pound weight assignment with Harold A. “Sonny” Via’s Hinterland, who finished second to champion Zanjabeel in last September’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park before a fourth in the Far Hills Races’ Grand National (Gr. 1). Michael Mitchell has the mount.
Fisher also will saddle Special Skills, who is making his first start in 22 months for owners Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. A novice stakes winner in 2016, Special Skills will carry 157 pounds based on his 129 rating and will be ridden by Willie McCarthy.
Sean McDermott, currently leading the jockey standings after two wins at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase last weekend, has the mount on Straylight Racing’s Invocation, who jumped up to a 130 rating with impressive victories last fall in ratings handicaps at Far Hills and the Steeplechase at Charleston for trainer Billy Santoro.
The fifth highweight is Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul, who was guided through a conservative racing program last year by trainer Ricky Hendriks, the owner’s son and last year’s second-leading trainer by wins and purses behind Fisher.
Surprising Soul won Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) and Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes in three starts last season. Ross Geraghty has the mount.
The Carolina Cup was a novice stakes last year, and the winner, Magalen O. Bryant’s Personal Start, was entered for a shot at a second victory in the meet’s premier race. The Jump Start gelding won the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) after his victory at Springdale.
Trained by Richard Valentine, Personal Start shoulders 153 pounds with a 125 rating and will be ridden by Barry Foley.
Valentine also will saddle Apple Equipment’s Oskar Denarius, a three-time winner in England last year who most recently finished third to Invocation at Charleston. The Irish-bred is weighted at 144 with a 116 rating.
Here is the field for the $50,000 Carolina Cup at 2 3/8 miles. The horses’ ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles. Visit www.nationalsteeplechase.com and click on the NSA Network button to watch the livestream video of all Carolina Cup races.
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 6-2-0-0, $122,000. 2017 NSA record: 5-2-1-0, $112,000. Won Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) by a length, then was fourth in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) and fell in Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Won Steeplechase at Callaway allowance hurdle after fourth in David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Handicap (Gr. 2) at International Gold Cup. Began 2018 season with sixth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths. (130)
Hinterland (Fr). 2008 b. g., Poliglote (GB)—Queen’s Place, by Diamond Prospect. Owner: Harold A. “Sonny” Via Jr. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Eric Aubree and Christian Bresson (Fr). 2018 record: 4-0-1-0, $63,750. 2017 record: 2-0-1-0, $36,000. Finished closing second in Belmont Park’s 2018 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), then was fourth in Far Hills’ Grand National (Gr. 1). Opened 2018 with fourth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), then finished sixth in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). (130)
Personal Start. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Jump Start—Personal Doreen, by Personal Flag. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Magalen O. Bryant (Ky.) 2018 record: 5-2-0-0, $101,750. 2017 record: 6-1-1-2, $46,750. Won Virginia Gold Cup’s 2018 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) by eight lengths after victory in Carolina Cup novice stakes. Finished distant fifth in International Gold Cup’s 2018 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished fourth in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was seventh in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). (125)
Boss Man. 2010 ch. g., English Channel—Jenny Joy, by Acceptable. Owner: Carrington Holdings. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Kinsman Farm (Fla.) 2018 NSA record: 7-3-0-1, $113,250. Finished fourth in 2018 Aflac Supreme hurdle after being pulled up in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after third in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at Saratoga. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle by front-running 2 1/4 lengths. Graduate of Jason Servis’ flat training operation scored his maiden victory over fences at the 2018 Queen’s Cup. (127)
Special Skills. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Bernstein—Kentucky Whisper, by Southern Halo. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Sierra Farm (Ky.) 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 3-0-2-0, $19,950. 2016 record: 8-3-1-2, $178,750. Finished second in 2017 Tryon Block House handicap and fourth in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Won Far Hills’ 2016 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle. (129)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Surprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2018 record: 3-2-1-0, $97,500. 2017 record: 7-3-0-1, $106,500. Won Saratoga’s 2018 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, then was second in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Opened 2018 with dominant victory in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). (130)
Oskar Denarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Authorized (Ire)—Elizabethan Age, by King’s Best. Owner: Apple Equipment LLC. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Open. Breeder: River Downs Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $3,000. Eased in his first U.S. start, 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Finished third in Charleston ratings handicap. Unplaced in Uttoxeter hurdle before export. Had three straight wins in spring 2018 at Southwell, Worcester, and Newton Abbot. (116)
Invocation (Fr). 2013 dk. b. g., Intense Focus—Fabiola, by Medicean. Owner: Straylight Racing. Trainer: William Santoro. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: E.A.R.L. Elevage Des Loges (Fr). 2018 record: 2-2-0-0, $48,000. 2017 record: 3-2-1-0, $58,500. In two 2018 starts, won ratings handicaps at Far Hills and Charleston. Won 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle and Radnor ratings handicap after second in Queen’s Cup ratings handicap. Won a 2016 Colonial Cup allowance hurdle by 18 lengths after third in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes, his U.S. debut. (130)
Ice It. 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 2018 record: 6-1-1-0, $74,750. 2017 record: 6-1-2-1, $100,330. Won 2018 Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Finished second in Belmont Park’s 2018 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Was fifth in Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle at Iroquois Steeplechase. Finished fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase after sixth in Carolina Cup. Won 2017 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year-old championship. (130)