A well-matched field of American jump racing’s rising stars will line up Saturday for the $75,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, the signature race of the 21st annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte.
The Queen’s Cup meet will offer five races that will be contested over hurdles, timber fences, and on the flat. First post time is 1:30 p.m. at Brooklandwood Race Course in Mineral Springs, N.C.
Champion trainer Jack Fisher, who won last year’s Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase with Selection Sunday, will saddle Northwoods Stable’s and Sheila Williams’ Special Skills and Gil Johnston’s Broxbourne, both of whom are looking to improve on second-place finishes in their most recent starts.
Special Skills finished second on April 2 in the Carolina Cup, which like the Queen’s Cup is limited to novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences. Sean McDermott will ride.
Broxbourne finished second in two novice stakes last fall, the William Entenmann Memorial at Belmont Park and the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia. Jack Doyle has the mount.
Richard Valentine, annually among the sport’s top trainers, entered Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Class Cherokee and Check Mark Stables’ Kwacha. Class Cherokee won of a Ratings Handicap at the Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia last fall and will be ridden by Darren Nagle. Check Mark Stables’ Kwacha, fifth in the Carolina Cup, is a double call for Doyle.
Rosbrian Farm’s Daneking will be making his inaugural American jumps start for trainer Ricky Hendriks, who named Michael Byrne to ride. Daneking finished second in two hurdle handicaps for then-trainer Willie Mullins last year.
Rhys Flint, a newcomer to American race riding, has the mount on Amy Taylor Rowe’s Maserati, who won a Queen’s Cup maiden hurdle last year and subsequently won a Virginia Fall allowance hurdle for trainer Leslie Young.
Virginia Lazenby’s Hardrock Eleven finished sixth in the Carolina Cup in Camden, S.C., and trainer Doug Fout named 2014 champion jockey Willie McCarthy to ride.
Here are the field for the $75,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, with their National Steeplechase Association ratings in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Maserati (Brz). 2015 record: 2-2-0-0, $30,000. 2009 bk. b. or br. g., Point Given—Lady Celina (Brz), by Roi Normand. Owner: Amy Taylor Rowe. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey Rhys Flint. Breeder: Fazenda Mondesir (Brz). 2015 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $30,000. Won Virginia Fall’s 2015 Bon Nouvel allowance hurdle after maiden win at Queen’s Cup. Also won Suffolk Downs flat race for hurdlers. (119)
Odi et Amo. 2008 b. g., Inamorato—Marisha, by Arts and Letters. Owner: Athene Noctura Stables. Trainer: Allison B. Fullmer. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. Breeder: James C. Bickett (Ky.). 2016 record: 2-0-1-1, $6,600. 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 3-2-1-0, $19,300. Finished third in 2016 Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup optional allowance hurdle, then was close second in Stoneybrook Steeplechase Ratings Handicap. Easily won featured starter handicap at High Hope in Lexington, Ky., in May 2014. Name translates: I hate and I love, from the first line of a poem by the Latin poet Catullus. (110).
Class Cherokee. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Cherokee Boy—Class Excells, by Class Secret. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Mede Cahaba Stable and Stud (Va). 2015 record; 4-1-0-0, $17,500. Closed out 2015 season with victory in a Ratings Handicap at Montpelier Hunt Races after fourth-place finishes at Virginia Fall and Virginia Gold Cup. (115)
Express Line (Fr). 2012 b. g., Afleet Express—Al Beedaa, by Swain (Ire). Owner: Shadowfax Stables. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Jean-Pierre Deroubaix (Fr). 2016 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. 2015 record: No NSA starts. Won Carolina Cup maiden hurdle by 2 1/2 lengths in first start over fences. Never close in three starts on flat last year. (116)
Kwacha. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Exchange Rate–Zamba, by Theatrical (Ire) Owner: Check Mark Stables. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Glen Hill Farm (Fla.). 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,000. 2015 record: 4-1-1-1, $29,600. Finished fifth in 2016 Carolina Cup. Won 2015 Monmouth Park maiden hurdle and then finished third in a Saratoga allowance hurdle. (116)
Daneking (GB). 2009 b. g., Dylan Thomas (Ire)—Sadie Thompson, by King’s Best. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Michael Byrne. Breeder: Sir Eric Parker (GB). 2015 NSA record: No starts. For trainer Willie Mullins, had two second-place finishes in hurdle handicaps before failing to finish in Cork allowance hurdle. (135)
Special Skills. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Bernstein—Kentucky Whisper, by Southern Halo. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwood Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Sierra Farm (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-0-1-0, $13,500. 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $45,000. Finished second in 2016 Carolina Cup. Closed his 2015 season with two victories, a maiden win at Suffolk Downs and an allowance hurdle score at the International Gold Cup. (120)
Cash Crop. 2011 b. g., Distorted Humor–Cotton Blossom, by Broken Vow. Owner: Mrs. George Sensor. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Brushwood Stable (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,750. 2015 record: 6-1-0-1, $24,300. Finished third in 2016 Carolina Cup. Broke through for a victory on home course at the 2015 Colonial Cup in his sixth start over fences. Claimed from owner-breeder for $25,000 after modest career on flat. (115)
Hardrock Eleven. 2010 gr. or ro. g., Rock Hard Ten—Stark Beauty, by Unbridled’s Song. Owner: Virginia Lazenby. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeders: Farm III Enterprises and Off the Hook Partners (Fla.) 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,250. 2015 record: 6-1-1-2, $53,350. Began 2016 with sixth in Carolina Cup. Finished third in 2015 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle by 4 1/4 lengths on Sept. 3 after fourth on Aug. 13. Formerly trained by owner’s late brother, David P. Banks, and won an Evangeline Downs optional allowance flat race in 2014. (116)
Broxbourne. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Purim—Morlana, by More Than Ready. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeders: Jason Litt and Howard Litt (Ky.) 2015 record: 5-0-2-0, $28,750. 2014 record: 6-2-0-0, $48,750. Finished second in Belmont Park’s 2015 William Entenmann Memorial before being pulled up in Far Hills Ratings Handicap, then was second in Steeplechase at Callaway’s AFLAC Supreme Hurdle. Finished fourth in Queen’s Cup Ratings Hurdle before sixth in Ratings Handicap at Fair Hill. (124)
Gmac (Ire). dk. b. or br. g., Excellent Art—Kafayef, by Secreto. Owner: Gregory D. Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Ann Kennedy (Ire). 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. In only U.S. jumps start, won $30,000 Radnor Hunt Races allowance hurdle in 2014. (117)