For the first time in two years, racing returns to historic Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., on Saturday for the 86th running of the Carolina Cup Races. The six-race program consists of five over hurdles and a training flat contest, with $100,000 in total purses.
Anchoring the card is the $35,000 Carolina Cup, which will be run as a handicap for horses rated at 125 or less, at a distance of 2 ⅜ miles.
The meet, which like so many others was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19, is a South Carolina tradition and premier social event in the state. This year’s renewal will accommodate fans, include a vendor village of shops, activities like stick-pony races, and even a visit from the Budweiser Clydesdales. Post time is 1 p.m., and gates open at 9 a.m.
Three of the six races are maiden special weight events, one of which is restricted to fillies and mares. The fields include quite a few first-time starters over hurdles.
In the featured Carolina Cup, local trainer Arch Kingsley, who recently returned to riding some of the horses under his tutelage, saddles two: Mark Buyck’s 12-year-old Grade 1 winner Show Court, who captured the Cup in 2017, and J. David Richardson’s Kilronan, a six-year-old son of long-winded Phipps turf star Point of Entry. Kilronan broke his maiden in his first try over jumps at the Queen’s Cup Races last month with Kingsley in the saddle. No rider has been named. Kingsley will ride Show Court. Kingsley has trained two other Carolina Cup victors, Sunshine Numbers in 2011 and Top Striker in 2014, both for Camden-based owners Sue and George Sensor.
Among the other contenders are a triple threat from Jack Fisher: Gill Johnston’s Cite, Woodslane Farm’s Pik Em, and Bruton Street-US’ Lord Justice.
Cite, unraced since a successful allowance bid at Saratoga in 2019, in which the son of Blame defeated recent Middleburg handicap winner Repeat Repeat, has earned nearly $200,000 in his career. Pik Em, a seven-year-old by Tapit, most recently started at Montpelier in 2019, but in his start before that won the Appleton Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills, a top-class handicap. Lord Justice finished fourth and third, respectively, in the 2019 and 2018 runnings of the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at the Spa. He turned in his best NSA performance at the Iroquois Races in 2019, taking a handicap for horses rated at 125 or lower.
Keystone Thoroughbreds’ Noah and the Ark won four races in Europe before coming to the U.S. last year for trainer Todd McKenna. He made two 2020 handicap starts and is looking for his first in-the-money finish. English rider Harrison Beswick, 25, will ride Noah and the Ark in his first NSA mount.
Irish-bred Bodes Well, a six-year-old son of Rock of Gibralter, has two 2019 handicap wins under his belt, at Colonial Downs and Charleston. Owned by Silverton Hill and trained by Leslie Young, Bodes Well had an unfortunate fall in his seasonal debut at the Queen’s Cup. In his final race of 2020, the gelding ran a solid third beaten less than five lengths, in a handicap for horses rated at 120 or lower.
Owner-trainer Allison Fulmer’s The Happy Giant broke his maiden over hurdles at Colonial Downs last summer and finished fifth in his seasonal debut at the Queen’s Cup in April. KMSN Stables’ Sportswear, a son of the great Frankel, began his jump racing career with two straight wins in 2019, but has sometimes struggled or been the victim of bad racing luck since.
The Hundred Acre Field’s Cracker Factory took on the sports heavy hitters in the Temple Gwathmey Stakes at Middleburg on May 1, his first start of the year, but was highly competitive at this level at Great Meadow in the fall. Mason Hardaway Lampton’s Maccabee is a proven handicap horse and also boasts a third place finish in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle Novice Stakes at Callaway Gardens in 2019, finishing ahead of the highly accomplished Iranistan.
If you are not attending the races in person, be sure to watch the live stream via the NSA’s website. The NSA will broadcast a recap show, Jump Racing USA, featuring replays, commentary and interviews, on its web site on Monday evening at 7 p.m. and on demand after that. The live stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory, the Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase Foundation, Charleston’s Post & Courier, and the Virginia Equine Alliance.