Percussionist, the globetrotter who powered to an impressive victory in the Grand National last month, will attempt to lock up an American championship in the $100,000 Colonial Cup, the Grade 1 featured race of the 41st annual Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup at Camden, S.C., on Saturday, Nov. 13. First post time is 12:30 p.m., and live video streaming of the Colonial Cup races will be available at www.carolina-cup.org.
The Colonial Cup, sponsored by Carolina First, often plays an important role in determining the National Steeplechase Association champion and the year’s Eclipse Award winner, and it is likely to crown the NSA champ this year. Going into the Colonial Cup, three members of the field–Percussionist, Slip Away, and Tax Ruling–have a chance to take down the NSA title based on this season’s earnings.
Also in a talented and competitive field for the Colonial Cup are last year’s winner and second-place finisher: Eclipse Award winner Mixed Up and Red Letter Day, respectively. They finished within a neck of each other, and Tax Ruling was third. All nine starters carry 156 pounds in the Colonial Cup.
Off his stunning seven-length victory in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 23, Irish-bred Percussionist must be regarded as the favorite in the Colonial Cup, a 2 3/4-mile race over the testing Colonial Cup Course at Camden’s Springdale Race Course.
Ridden by James Patrick O’Farrell, Percussionist seized control over the Grand National’s final fence and quickly drew away to victory. For the Colonial Cup, he will have some new connections. Formerly owned by Morten Buskop, Percussionist has been purchased by prominent American steeplechase owner Irvin Naylor and now will be trained by Kristin Close.
Buskop, a software executive in Denmark, had prepared Percussionist for his American invasion with a score in the Ovrevoll Champion Hurdle at Norway’s Ovrevoll Race Course. O’Farrell returns to the U.S. for the mount on Percussionist, a nine-year-old gelding by the late champion sire Sadler’s Wells. Bred by the late Robert Sangster’s Swettenham Stud, Percussionist had won the 2006 Emirates Airline Yorkshire Cup (Gr. 2) on the flat.
Nayloris making a strong bid for the year’s owner title, and the York, Pa., businessman and sportsman also will be represented by Tax Ruling, winner of the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Steeplechase (Gr. 1) on May 8. Trained by Desmond Fogarty, Tax Ruling was pulled up in the Grand National. Darren Nagle has the mount.
Several other members of the Grand National field will be returning for another chance to take on Percussionist. Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Slip Away, second in the Grand National, has proved that he is as tough and durable as his sire, 1998 Horse of the Year Skip Away.
Trained by Tom Voss, Slip Away ran away to a nine-length victory in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at the Middleburg Spring Races in Virginia, and he has taken second in the fall’s two Grade 1 races leading up to the Colonial Cup: the $100,000 Helen Haskell Sampson at Monmouth Park in New Jersey on Sept. 25 and then the Grand National. The seven-year-old gelding again will be ridden by reigning champion jockey Paddy Young, who currently leads the NSA riders list by wins and earnings.
Jonathan Sheppard, the Racing Hall of Fame trainer who registered his 1,000th career win over fences in the Haskell Sampson, will saddle the Grand National’s third finisher, Lead Us Not, for longtime owner Bill Pape. Winner of a Saratoga Race Course allowance-optional claimer in August, Lead Us Not will be ridden by Brian Crowley.
Sheppard also will send out Pape’s Mixed Up, who is looking for his first victory since last year’s Colonial Cup. The 11-year-old Carnivalay gelding was pulled up in the Grand National. Danielle Hodsdon, who is closing fast on Young in the wins standings, again will ride Mixed Up.
Polaris Stables’ Preemptive Strike attempted a preemptive strike on the Grand National by setting a strong pace and held on to finish fourth. Trained by Sanna Hendriks, Preemptive Strike will be ridden by Jody Petty and can be expected to show the way early with Slip Away.
Like Mixed Up, Gregory Hawkins’ Red Letter Day will be looking for his first victory of the year. Following his close second in the Colonial Cup, he kicked off his 2010 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Haskell Sampson and a sixth in the Grand National. Bernie Dalton will ride for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot.
Jack Fisher, the reigning top trainer, entered Mrs. S. K. Johnston’s Swagger Stick, who is showing versatility over hurdles and timber fences. He finished third in the $50,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) at Saratoga in August and then finished third over timber in the $50,000 International Gold Cup. Willie Dowling will ride.
Completing the field is EMO Stables’ Orison, the 2007 Carolina Cup winner who most recently finished seventh in the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Hurdle at Colonial Downs in Virginia on July 11. Roddy Mackenzie has the mount.
The Colonial Cup meet concludes the 2010 National Steeplechase Association season, and the afternoon of quality racing features crowded fields in seven races. The Colonial Cup meet salutes America’s men and women in the armed services, and the race association has distributed 3,000 free general admission tickets and 500 infield parking passes to members of the military services. Proceeds from the day benefit KershawHealth and other charities.