Irv Naylor’s Must See The Doc, always prominent in the Steeplechase of Charleston’s $25,000 Alston Cup for three-year-olds, battled past front-runner Global Freedom after the last fence and held off Another Try for a narrow victory on Sunday.
Hudson River Farms’ Another Try finished second, just ahead of Rosbrian Farm’s Global Freedom, winner of the Far Hills Races’ $50,000 Gladstone Stakes on Oct. 19.
Trained by Ricky Hendriks, Global Freedom became the year’s three-year-old champion with $32,500 in jump purses. Leslie Young-trained Must See The Doc, second to Global Freedom in the Gladstone, finished second in the standings with $24,000.
Under sunny skies and with temperatures in the brisk mid-50s, the six-race Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry brought down the curtain on the 2019 National Steeplechase Association program. The races in Hollywood, S.C., were run for the first time under the ownership of the Post and Courier, the South’s oldest newspaper.
In the Alston Cup, Gerard Galligan sent Global Freedom to the lead at the start and set a moderate pace on the Stono Ferry course. Must See The Doc took up an occasionally fractious stalking position under Brian Linehan, with Diablo Voloce briefly prominent in the early going and Another Try well back.
Must See The Doc briefly gained the lead passing the finish line for the next-to-last time, but Linehan restrained him behind Global Freedom’s pace around the clubhouse turn and down the backstretch.
Darren Nagle moved Jonathan Sheppard-trained Another Try into contention at the third-from-last fence and made steady progress to challenge the leaders on the final turn. Galligan guided Global Freedom to the inside for the last fence, and Must See The Doc took the middle course with Another Try to his outside.
Another Try, fifth in the Gladstone, appeared on the verge of an upset, but Linehan applied pressure to Must See The Doc through the stretch, and they reached the finish line a neck ahead of Another Try.
Global Freedom tired late but continued gamely to preserve third money. Black Cloud Racing’s Summer Vow, also trained by Hendriks, finished fourth in a field of eight. Must See The Doc, who had two wins in three starts over fences in England before his Gladstone second, ran the Alston Cup’s 2 1/16 miles in 4:18 2/5 on turf rated as good.
Earlier on the program, Young and Linehan combined for a 7¾-length victory with Silverton Hill’s Bodes Well in a $15,000 ratings handicap. Irv Naylor’s Ocean Ready finished second, and Kinross Farm’s Junonia was third.
Daniel Denefrio’s Fightinirishtabit, an inexpensive claim off the flat, notched a two-length victory in the Steeplechase of Charleston $25,000 Post and Courier Cup, a Sport of Kings maiden hurdle.
With Galligan in the saddle for Hendriks, the Tiznow four-year-old followed the early pace of Decisive Triumph and held off Stonelea Stables’ Quick Toss at the finish. Sam-Son Farm’s Aldous Snow was a distant third.
Claimed for $6,250 by the owner at Gulfstream Park in March, Fightinirishtabit finished second to Naylor’s promising Family Tree in an Aiken Fall maiden hurdle on Oct. 26. Family Tree came back to win a Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens allowance hurdle for four-year-olds on Nov. 9.
Sheppard claimed the top two spots in the Steeplechase of Charleston’s $20,000 ratings handicap for horses ranked at 115 or lower. Ridden by Galligan, the owner-trainer’s Hepcat prevailed by 3¾ lengths over Eve Ledyard’s Go Get the Basil. Why Not Racing’s Jump Ship finished third.