Bill Pape’s Martini Brother, who blossomed last year as one of American Steeplechasing’s emerging stars, heads a talented field of six for the $50,000 Carolina Cup, the featured race of the 82nd annual Carolina Cup Races in Camden, S.C., on Saturday, March 29.
The Carolina Cup, with five races on tap, annually attracts one of the largest crowds in all of American horse racing, often behind only the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. First post time at the Springdale Course is 1:30 p.m.
The Carolina Cup is limited to novices, the sport’s rising stars in their first seasons of racing over fences in National Steeplechase Association competition. Martini Brother marked himself as a horse to watch early in the 2013 season and was a factor in Pape’s rise to becoming the NSA’s champion owner last year.
After winning his maiden victory at the Atlanta Steeplechase in April, Martini Brother defeated more seasoned competitors the following month in an allowance hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races in Pennsylvania.
The well-bred A.P. Indy gelding then stepped up to stakes competition in July and won the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. He came back to run well at the highest level of steeplechase racing, in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) in August. He earned more than $95,000 in purses in his first full season of racing over fences.
Martini Brother is trained by Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who maintains a string of horses at the Springdale Course over the winter. Ross Geraghty, the champion jockey in 2012, will ride.
Camden-based owner-trainer Kate Dalton entered Cat Feathers, who was the steeplechase sport’s leading female competitor in 2012. Although she failed to win last season, she nonetheless earned placings in two stakes races and earned more than $32,000. In the saddle will be Bernie Dalton, the owner’s husband and one of the sport’s top jockeys.
Camden resident Sue Sensor will be represented by Top Striker, who won his maiden victory at the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup last November. Top Striker is trained by Camden-based Arch Kingsley Jr. and will be ridden by Willie McCarthy.
Richard Valentine, a leading Virginia-based trainer, entered The Elkstone Group’s Albany Road, who finished third in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle for novices in Georgia before winding up the year with a sixth-place finish in an allowance hurdle at the Colonial Cup meet. Kieran Norris, last year’s champion apprentice jockey, will ride.
Another Virginia-based trainer, Julie Gomena, entered Sporty, winner of a featured allowance race at last year’s inaugural Dogwood Classic at Colonial Downs racetrack in early April. Roddy Mackenzie has the mount.
Jack Fisher, whose two wins on last year’s Colonial Cup card earned him a tie with Sheppard for the year’s champion trainer title, entered Sheila J. Williams’ Easy Reach, a two-time winner in the claiming ranks last year. Jeff Murphy will ride.
Here, in post position order, are the entries for the $50,000 Carolina Cup:
Easy Reach. 2006 dk. b. or br. g, Arch–Brig, by Two Punch. Owner: Sheila J. Williams. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2013 record: 6-2-1-0, $21,480. 10-1 odds. Won maiden claimer at Queen’s Cup and then won open claimer at Fair Hill. Also finished second in claiming hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway.
Albany Road. 2007 ch. g., Mr. Greeley—Jane’s the Name, by Trempolino. Owner: Elkstone Group. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2013 NSA record: 6-1-1-1, $31,618. 8-1 odds. Won maiden hurdle at Fair Hill Races in late May before good second in Saratoga optional allowance. Finished sixth in Colonial Cup’s allowance hurdle after third in Steeplechase at Callaway’s AFLAC Supreme Hurdle.
Sporty. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Smarty Jones—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: Rock Ford Stables. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Roddy Mackenzie. 2013 record: 4-1-0-0, $19,500. 2012 record: 3-1-0-0, $16,050. 6-1 odds. Tuned with win in Aiken Spring Steeplechase training flat race. Began 2013 season with score in Dogwood Classic allowance hurdle. Subsequently finished fifth in a division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and sixth in AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway. Won maiden victory at the 2012 Colonial Cup meet. Was a $40,000 claim from a Racing Hall of Fame trainer in 2011.
Martini Brother. (146) 2008 dk. b. or br. g., A.P. Indy—Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2013 record: 6-3-0-1, $95,250. 2012 record: 3-0-0-1, $2,250. 2-1 odds. Won his first three races of the year, including a victory in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Also won Atlanta maiden race and defeated more experienced rivals in Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle at Radnor Hunt Races. Finished a good third in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) before disappointing sixth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes.
Cat Feathers. 2008 dk. b. or br. f., Catienus—Mistress Hemming, by Quiet American. Owner-trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2013 record: 6-0-2-1, $32,758. 2012 record: 4-1-1-0, $58,500. 2011 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. 7-2 odds. 2012 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion. Winner of 2012 Mrs. Ogden Phipps at Saratoga finished second in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords for the second straight year in 2013. Finished third in Colonial Downs’ $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3). Wrapped up 2013 season with second in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle.
Top Striker. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy–Two’s Cozy, by Cozzene. Owner: Mrs. George Sensor. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2013 record: 3-1-1-0, $17,700. 10-1 odds. Broke through for maiden win over hurdles at the 2013 Colonial Cup meet after second in maiden hurdle at the Charleston Cup. Tuned for Carolina Cup with third in Aiken Spring Steeplechase training flat race on March 22.