With an unusually large number of year-end titles on the line, 13 horses from American Steeplechasing’s championship division will line up Saturday, Nov. 23, for the 44th running of the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1).
The 2 3/4-mile Colonial Cup over National Fences highlights a seven-race program with jam-packed fields at the Springdale Course in Camden, S.C. With the addition of a race to the traditional six-race program, first post time has been advanced to 12:15 p.m.
The Colonial Cup, which rings down the 2013 National Steeplechase Association season, drew the sport’s leading performers. Among them are current earnings leader Divine Fortune; championship challenger Gustavian; 2012 Colonial Cup winner Demonstrative; and 2012 Eclipse Award winner Pierrot Lunaire.
Owned by Bill Pape and trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, Divine Fortune seized the year’s earnings lead with an impressive victory in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey on Oct. 19. Ridden by Darren Nagle, the 10-year-old gelding went to the lead immediately, set an uncontested pace, and drew away authoritatively to a 5 1/2-length victory. Nagle was named to ride Divine Fortune in the Colonial Cup.
Although Divine Fortune has a $53,000 advantage in the earnings tabulation, he still can be caught. Magalen O. Bryant’s ’s Gustavian won Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 19 and finished second in the Grand National. A win in the Colonial Cup would give him the Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year’s leading earner if Divine Fortune finished out of the top three.
Paddy Young will ride Gustavian for his wife, trainer Leslie Young, and the three-time champion jockey will be looking to break a tie with Nagle for the year’s rider championship. Each has 15 victories. Young leads by earnings, but Nagle conceivably could overtake him with a Colonial Cup victory, which is worth $60,000 to the winner.
Although no earnings title will be at stake, Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative will be running for bragging rights and a shot at the Eclipse Award with a second straight Colonial Cup victory. Trained by Richard Valentine, Demonstrative won the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at Nashville on May 11, defeating Divine Fortune by a neck, and finished third in the Grand National. Robbie Walsh will ride the rangy Elusive Quality gelding.
Pape, a longtime owner on the verge of his first earnings title, will field additional firepower in Martini Brother, a Saratoga stakes winner who is chasing another Pape horse, Bluegrass Summer, for the novice championship. Martini Brother would move ahead of Far Hills stakes winner Bluegrass Summer with an in-the-money performance in the Colonial Cup.
Sheppard, who breeds and races horses in his own name, will send out Italian Wedding, winner of Saratoga’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1), and Barnstorming, winner of a Saratoga novice stakes. Bernie Dalton rides Italian Wedding, and Sean Flanagan will be aboard Barnstorming.
Pape’s earnings lead has been whittled down in recent weeks by three-time champion owner Irvin Naylor, who will be represented in the Colonial Cup by multiple 2013 stakes winner Decoy Daddy and recent import Changing Times. Decoy Daddy, trained by Cyril Murphy, will be ridden by Carol-Ann Sloan, and James Slater rides Changing Times for trainer Kathy Neilson.
Mary Ann Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire has made only one start this year, a fourth-place finish in the Grand National, and trainer Blythe Miller Davies named Willie McCarthy to ride.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot will take two shots at the Colonial Cup with Alajmal and The Grey Express, both owned by Gregory Hawkins. Last year’s novice champion, Alajmal opened the 2013 season with a Carolina Cup victory on the Springdale course, and he will be looking to improve on last year’s third-place finish in the Colonial Cup.
The Grey Express, winner of a Saratoga stakes race, has a chance to take down the year’s filly-and-mare championship with a victory in the Colonial Cup. Ross Geraghty, last year’s champion jockey, will be aboard The Grey Express, and leading amateur jockey Mark Beecher has the mount on Alajmal.
Danielle Hodsdon will ride Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, a two-time Grade 1 winner at Saratoga, for trainer Jimmy Day. Longtime Camden horseman Dale Thiel will be represented by Sir Dynamite, who most recently finished third in Aiken Fall’s $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup on Oct. 26. Trainer Britt Graham named Mark Watts to ride the Dynaformer gelding.
Who do you like in the $100,000 Colonial Cup?
The Grey Express (GB). 2005 gr. or ro. m., King’s Theater (Ire)—Poppet (GB), by Trempolino. Owner: Gregory Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2013 record: 6-1-2-2, $69,000. 2012 NSA record: No starts. 10-1 odds. Finished third in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes on Oct. 19 after leading at last fence. Won Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths before eighth in Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished second in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps after leading at the last fence. Tired and was pulled up in Iroquois’ Margaret Currey Henley on May 11. Finished third in the Georgia Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase on April 13.
Sir Dynamite. 2005 b. g., Dynaformer–Lady Ilsley, by Trempolino. Owner: Dale Thiel. Trainer: Britt Graham. Jockey: Mark Watts. 2013 record: 4-1-1-1, $22,600. 2012 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,800. 20-1 odds. Most recently ran third in Aiken Fall’s $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup at the Aiken Fall Races on Oct. 26. Began year at Aiken Spring Races with a victory in Celebrate Aiken optional allowance hurdle on March 23. Also had second in starter allowance at Queen’s Cup in North Carolina on April 27.
Pierrot Lunaire. 2004 b. g., War Chant–Playact (Ire), by Hernando (Fr). Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $10,000. 2012 record: 5-2-0-1, $253,000. 2011 record: 3-0-0-1, $20,000. 8-1 odds. Finished fourth in the Grand National (Gr. 1) in his 2013 debut. Locked up 2012 Eclipse Award with victory in Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., after stunning 48.75-1 win by a nose in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory (Gr. 1).
Divine Fortune. 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2013 record: 6-2-1-1, $202,000. 2012 record: 7-1-3-0, $113,500. 2011 record: 4-1-1-0, $64,000. 3-1 odds. Set all at the pace in Far Hills’ $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) and drew away to an impressive victory on Oct. 19. Set early pace in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and tired to finish seventh on Sept. 19. Attended early pace in the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22 and faded to finish seventh. Lacked closing punch in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and finished third. Finished a game second in $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 11. Cruised to a convincing victory in the Sandhills Cup in North Carolina on April 6.
Changing Times (Ire). 2006 b. g., Dr. Massini (Ire)—Pharenna (Ire), by Phardante (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: James Slater. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $4,500. 15-1 odds. Recent import finished third in the $45,000 Noel Laing Handicap at the Montpelier Hunt Races on Nov. 2. Looking for his first win of the year after thirds at Cheltenham and Aintree in the spring.
Gustavian. 2006 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Mossflower, by Affirmed. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2013 record: 4-1-2-1, $149,000. 2012 record: 5-1-4-0, $70,500. 2011 record: 5-2-2-0, $33,800. 4-1 odds. Finished second to Divine Fortune in the Grand National (Gr. 1), beaten 5 1/2 lengths. Scored biggest victory of his career when he bested All Together by a nose in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at 3.85-1 on Sept. 19. Game second in Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on May 18 after third in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) on April 20. Won Belmont Park’s 2012 William Entenmann Memorial as 1.35-1 favorite. Never finished worse than third in past two seasons.
Italian Wedding. (150) 2005 b. g., Alphabet Soup–Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2013 record: 4-1-1-1, $123,000. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,500. 2011 record: 6-1-0-0, $55,200. 8-1 odds. Finished eighth in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 19. Rallied for third in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 19. Notched a one-length score in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22. Finished a good second in Saratoga’s $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 1 in his first start since fourth-place finish in the 2012 Carolina Cup. Won 2011 Michael G. Walsh Novice at Saratoga.
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2013 record: 4-1-0-1, $127,000. 2012 record: 6-3-0-0, $209,000. 2011 record: 8-2-4-2, $96,300. 6-1 odds. Finished third in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 19. Passed tiring horses to finish fourth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 19 after a lackluster sixth in Saratoga’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), a race he won in 2012. Surged to a neck victory in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), his first 2013 start. Won 2012’s $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and was Eclipse Award runner-up. Was 2010 three-year-old champion.
Martini Brother. (146) 2008 dk. b. or br. g., A.P. Indy—Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2013 record: 6-3-0-1, $95,250. 2012 record: 3-0-0-1, $2,250. 10-1 odds. Fell early in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 19. Ran a disappointing sixth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 19. Finished a good third in Saratoga Race Course’s New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1), beaten a length on Aug. 22. Previously undefeated in 2013 after half-length score in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. Also won Atlanta maiden race on April 13 and defeated more experienced rivals in Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle at Radnor Hunt Races on May 18.
Alajmal. 2008 b. g., First Samurai—Alattrah, by Shadeed. Owner: Gregory D. Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Mark Beecher. 2013 record: 4-1-0-0, $33,750. 2012 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $64,000. 10-1 odds. Winless over fences since stylish victory in $50,000 Carolina Cup for novices in first 2013 start. Novice champion closed 2012 season with a strong third in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Prepped for Colonial Cup with victory in Aiken Fall training flat race on Oct. 26.
Spy in the Sky. (146) 2004 ch. g., Thunder Gulch—Monaassabaat, by Zilzal. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2013 NSA record: 7-0-1-0, $25,100. 2012 record: 6-1-1-1, $111,250. 2011 record: 6-0-0-3, $12,000. 15-1 odds. His 2013 drought continued when second to Decoy Daddy in Noel Laing Handicap at Virginia’s Montpelier Hunt Races on Nov. 2. Finished seventh in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) on Oct. 19. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 19 and Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22 after fourth in $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 1. Finished seventh in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup in seasonal debut on May 18. Upset 2012 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 25-1.
Barnstorming. 2006 b. g., Thunder Gulch—Soul of the Cat, by Stravinsky. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Sean Flanagan. 2013 record: 6-1-1-0, $75,500. 2012 record: 2-0-0-1, $8,000. 15-1 odds. Finished fifth in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 19. Rolled to a 6 1/4-length victory in Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 15 after good second in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. Fourth in the National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 18 and the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase in North Carolina on April 27. Finished fifth in Carolina Cup in his 2013 debut.
Decoy Daddy (Ire). 2002 ch. g., Lord of Appeal–Young Bebe, by M. Double M. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. 2013 record: 6-3-0-1, $89,500. 2012 record: 6-1-1-0, $34,300. 2011 record: 7-3-2-0, $124,100. 10-1 odds. Collected his third victory in Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap on Nov. 2. Finished seventh in Colonial Downs’ David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) on June 8. Came back after being headed to win Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on May 18. Drew away to an 8 1/2-length win in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring Races on April 20. Finished fourth in 2012 Colonial Cup (Gr. 1).