Italian Wedding, who celebrated his first victory over fences at the Aiken Spring Races on March 20, will step up to more experienced competition in the $20,000 Sandhills Cup, featured race of Saturday’s 59th Stoneybrook Steeplechase at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C.
Bred, owned, and trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, five-year-old Italian Wedding will again be ridden by Danielle Hodsdon in the 2 3/8-mile Sandhills Cup, which attracted a field of seven. The Alphabet Soup gelding will carry the 156-pound high weight under the conditions of the allowance race.
Italian Wedding arrived just in time to win the two-mile James W. Maloney maiden hurdle race at Aiken, S.C., on March 20, prevailing by a nose.
Also winning on the Aiken card was Sandhills starter Junood, a half-length victor in the $10,000 Ford D. Conger conditioned claiming race. Bernie Dalton returns aboard the seven-year-old Cozzene gelding, who is owned and trained by Dave Washer.
Matt McCarron, a two-time steeplechase champion jockey who has resumed riding this year, has the mount on Whitewood Stable’s Atrium, the Conger’s third-place finisher behind Junood. Other Aiken starters in the Sandhills field are Eagle Beagle and Indy Run, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the $25,000 Celebrate Aiken allowance hurdle.
Completing the field are Waracha, who resumes his steeplechase career after running on the flat most of last year, and Most Bossest, making his first start since last May.
The Sandhills Cup will cap a day of family fun and cancer awareness at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase, with proceeds benefiting the Moore Regional Hospital Foundation’s Cancer CARE Fund.