Picking up where he left off last fall, DASH Stable’s Ice It charged to the lead Saturday in the second run down Springdale Race Course’s backstretch and drew away easily in the stretch to a six-length victory in the $50,000 Carolina Cup ratings handicap.
Straylight Racing’s Invocation came on late to finish second, two lengths clear of Magalen O. Bryant’s Personal Start, who had won last year’s Carolina Cup when it was a novice stakes. Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul finished fourth.
Trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Jack Doyle, seven-year-old Ice It ran the Carolina Cup’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:03 4/5 on turf rated as good.
The silvery gelding had closed out his 2018 season with a victory in the Aflac Supreme Hurdle for novices at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia and helped to seal Fisher’s seventh consecutive trainer title.
The 87th annual Carolina Cup Races in Camden, S.C., run under high clouds with temperatures in the mid-70s, attracted a festive crowd to the historic race course. The Springdale course also will be the scene of next Saturday’s The Cup Runneth Over meet, a late addition to the National Steeplechase Association schedule.
DASH Stable is owned by Sheila Fisher, the trainer’s wife, and was a family partnership with her father, Rufus Williams, who died last September. DASH was an amalgam of Dad and Sheila. Ice It was one of their first horses and the three-year-old champion in 2014.
Since then, Ice It has run well on occasion, and only on occasion. He won the 2017 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase but was blanked in subsequent starts, mostly against novices, until his victory at Callaway last November.
He was one of an unprecedented five highweights in the Carolina Cup, for horses with National Steeplechase Association ratings of 130 or lower. Other highweights were 2018 Grade 1 winner Show Court, Fisher-trained Hinterland, Invocation, Personal Start, and Surprising Soul.
Ice It, who had never run well at Springdale, entered the paddock looking as though he needed a good night’s sleep. But he perked up when Doyle steered him onto the race course and cantered him to the start on the well-manicured Springdale course.
Personal Start, with Barry Foley again in the saddle for trainer Richard Valentine, took the lead on the first run down the backstretch, while Doyle had Ice It loping along toward the back of the eight-horse field.
The Tapit gelding picked up the pace down the homestretch for the first time and jumped to the lead on the final backstretch run, with Personal Start and Surprising Soul in pursuit.
Doyle kicked Ice It away from his challengers after the final fence and came home to an easy victory. Invocation, ridden by Sean McDermott, made sharp late move to pick up second money. Personal Start finished 3½ lengths clear of Surprising Soul. Sonny Via’s Hinterland finished fifth, and Show Court was sixth.
Fisher, who had to wait until the fourth week of the 2018 NSA season to record his first victory, broke out of the gate with authority at the Carolina Cup. He and Doyle combined to win the previous race, a $35,000 allowance hurdle, with Storm Team, owned by Sheila Williams, who is Sheila Fisher’s mother, and the Northwoods Stable of Ann and Michael Hankin.