The 86th annual Carolina Cup Races next March 31 will offer a record $325,000 in purses, highlighted by the first spring edition of the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), worth $150,000 and showcasing the steeplechase sport’s star performers.
In addition, the signature Carolina Cup for emerging steeplechase stars will carry a $75,000 purse, and races will be offered for fillies and mares in the $40,000 Life’s Illusion and for four-year-olds in the $30,000 Raymond G. Woolfe.
The program, approved this week by the Carolina Cup Racing Association’s Board of Directors, was developed by Carolina Cup Executive Director John Cushman and Bill Gallo Jr., the National Steeplechase Association’s director of racing.
Cushman expressed appreciation to his fellow board members for approving an expanded and expansive program.
“We’re very proud of the program. We’re fully invested in the sport,” he said. “This is the single best program we’ve ever put together.”
Cushman said the Carolina Cup’s prospective races were announced well in advance so that steeplechase horsemen will have plenty of time to prepare for the rich races at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.
Camden, a center of winter Thoroughbred training for nearly a century, also will have available stalls for horsemen wanting to prepare their horses in a moderate climate in late winter. “We’re hoping steeplechase horsemen will ship down six or eight weeks before the races,” he said. “You’re not going to miss any time training, and you can ship north from here.”
With the purse increases, the Carolina Cup will be one of the three richest racing programs on the NSA’s spring schedule, with the Virginia Gold Cup on May 5 and the Iroquois Steeplechase the following Saturday.
The Colonial Cup, a top-ranked race formerly run in November, will get the 2018 jump-racing season off to a rich and quick start. The Colonial Cup is at 2 3/8 miles and will be one of spring season’s two Grade 1 races along with the Calvin Houghland Iroquois in Nashville on May 12.
The Carolina Cup, at 2 1/8 miles, is open to novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences. These are jump racing’s emerging stars, and the best of them will in time graduate to the sport’s championship division, which includes the Colonial Cup.
The $40,000 Life’s Illusion at two miles will put the spotlight on the females who run and jump. The Life’s Illusion will be one of two top spring races for the fillies and mares with Iroquois’ Margaret Currey Henley.
The Raymond J. Woolfe also moves to the spring from the fall, when it previously was limited to three-year-olds. The two-mile Woolfe will attract rising four-year-olds as they prepare to compete in the novice division.
Also on the tentative program are the Dale K. Thiel, a $30,000 maiden hurdle, and a training flat race.
“The Carolina Cup is to be commended for putting together an impressive program for its 2018 spring meet,” Gallo said. “On one afternoon, the Carolina Cup’s fans will be able to see some of the sport’s best horses as they begin their 2018 racing seasons.”