Hickory Tree Stables’ Gustavian, ridden by champion jockey Paddy Young, launched a formidable move on the final turn of Ford Conger Field and overtook front-running Baltic Shore to win the $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup, feature race of the 20th annual Aiken Fall Steeplechase on Saturday, Oct. 29.
High Hope Stables’ Baltic Shore, ridden by Willie McCarthy, finished three-quarters of a length behind the winner and ten lengths clear of the third-place finisher, Eugene Weymouth’s Wild for Gold, ridden by Bernie Dalton.
Trained by Leslie Young, the winning jockey’s wife, Gustavian ran the Budweiser Holiday Cup’s 2 1/4 mile in 4:21.20 on a firm course in Aiken, S.C. It was the second straight victory for the five-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding, who had won a maiden hurdle at Shawan Downs on Sept. 24.
Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, who was the National Steeplechase Association’s champion trainer by wins and earnings last year, tightened the 2011 race with Tom Voss for the victory title when Bill Pape’s Dugan won the $15,000 open claiming hurdle over Trillium Stable’s Mischief, ridden by Young and trained by Voss.
Sheppard now has 11 victories for the year, one fewer than Voss, and leads the money standings by more than $100,000.
Irvin Naylor continued his inexorable march toward a second straight owner title when his Union Army scored by 5 1/2 lengths in a $15,000 maiden hurdle under Ross Geraghty. Union Army is trained by Joseph Delozier III, who prepared all three of Naylor’s winners at the Far Hills Races meet in New Jersey a week earlier. The Far Hills splurge, including Black Jack Blues’ victory in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), propelled Naylor’s stable to record annual earnings of more than $600,000.