Harrods Creek, a stakes winner on the flat who showed promise over fences in 2014, returns to the races Saturday as the starting highweight in the $30,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup, the featured race of the golden-anniversary running of the Aiken Spring Races.
First post time for the six-race program is 1 p.m. at Ford Conger Field in Aiken, S.C., for the kick-off meet of the 2016 National Steeplechase Association season.
Owned by a partnership that includes prominent Louisville horseman Dr. J. David Richardson, Harrods Creek won a Parx Racing maiden hurdle and finished second in a Saratoga Race Course allowance hurdle before going to the sidelines.
Arch Kingsley Jr. trains Harrods Creek, who won the 2012 John’s Call Stakes at Saratoga and has flat earnings of more than $250,000. Jack Doyle, last year’s leading jockey by purse earnings, will ride the 156-pound highweight.
Bruce Smart Jr.’s Orchestra Leader will carry 155 pounds in the two-mile optional allowance hurdle over National Fences. The Van Nistelrooy gelding is trained by Jimmy Day, who had the best year of his career in 2015.
Orchestra Leader won Foxfield Spring’s Daniel G. Van Clief Memorial and had five second-place finishes in a busy 2015 season that yielded $52,00 in purse earnings. Sean McDermott will ride.
Jockey Kieran Norris regularly gets the new season off to a strong start at Aiken. He has won the past two editions of the Budweiser Imperial Cup, and he will be shooting for the hat trick with Virginia Lazenby’s Dreamin Fool. Trained by Doug Fout, Dreamin Fool won his maiden victory at Aiken last fall with Norris in the saddle. He is third in the weights at 153 pounds.
Owner-trainer Allison Fullmer’s Odi et Amo will be looking to regain the form that produced a victory in the 2014 featured optional allowance hurdle at the 2014 High Hope Steeplechase in Lexington, Ky. Danielle Hodsdon, champion jockey in 2006, will ride Odi et Amo, who carries 150 pounds.
Completing the field is B’More Hopeful Stable’s So Outspoken, a two-time winner last spring. Jazz Napravnik trains the Bernardini gelding, who will pack 146 pounds.
Here is the field for the $30,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup optional allowance hurdle. The number in parentheses at the end of each profile is the horse’s current National Steeplechase Association rating.
Dreamin Fool. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Woke Up Dreamin–Fast Move, by Hickman Creek. Owner: Virginia Lazenby. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Robert E. Ritchie Jr. (Ky). 2015 record: 2-1-1-0, $15,600. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $5,500. Won Aiken Fall maiden hurdle after second in Virginia Fall maiden. Claiming winner at Evangeline Downs before converting to jump racing. (116)
Orchestra Leader. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Magic of Life, by Seattle Slew. Owner: S. Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Strategy Bloodstock (Ky.) 2015 record: 8-1-5-1, $52,000. 2014 record: 6-1-0-2, $12,500. Finished second in Foxfield Fall’s featured optional allowance hurdle, then was third in Charleston Cup. Finished second in Saratoga optional allowance hurdle after fifth in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Opened 2015 season with win in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance race on April 25, then had second-place finishes in High Hope optional allowance hurdle at Lexington, Ky., and in Ratings Handicap at Parx Racing on July 14. (118)
Harrods Creek. 2007 ch. g., Langfuhr–Float and Sting, by Two Punch. Owners: J. David Richardson, G. Michael Chipman, and Richard M. Knapp. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeders: Dr. J. David Richardson and Dr. Hiram C. Polk (Ky.). 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 6-1-1-1, $32,150. Missed 2015 season after 2014 maiden victory at Parx Racing and second in Saratoga allowance hurdle. Earned more than $250,000 on flat and won 2012 John’s Call Stakes. Bred by two prominent Louisville physicians who are long-time horse owners. (119)
So Outspoken. 2010 b. g., Bernardini—Green Door, by Danzig. Owner: B More Hopeful Stables. Trainer: Jazz Napravnik. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Austin and Brenda Paul (Ont.) 2015 record: 11-2-0-0, $32,950. Finished seventh in Colonial Cup Ratings Handicap to close out busy 2015 season. Won Stoneybrook maiden and Atlanta Steeplechase Ratings Handicap. (109)
Odi et Amo. 2008 b. g., Inamorato—Marisha, by Arts and Letters. Owner-trainer: Allison B. Fullmer. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. Breeder: James C. Bickett (Ky.). 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 3-2-1-0, $19,300. Pulled up in both 2015 starts. Easily won featured starter handicap at High Hope in Lexington, Ky., in May 2014. Won maiden claimer at 2014 Stoneybrook Steeplechase in North Carolina and then finished second in a Tryon claimer. Name translates: I hate and I love, from the first line of a poem by the Latin poet Catullus. (113).