Mark W. Buyck Jr., a South Carolina lawyer and a University of South Carolina trustee, had a choice of events to attend on April 1. He could have been in Phoenix to watch the USC men’s basketball team play Gonzaga in the Final Four. (South Carolina lost by four points.) He could have been in Dallas to await the USC women’s basketball finals against Mississippi State University the next day. (They won the national championship.)
Instead, he chose to remain in South Carolina on Saturday to watch his Show Court run in the $75,000 Carolina Cup, sponsored by the Mullikin Law Firm.
He made the right choice.
Ridden by Michael Mitchell, Show Court was always in good position, made a strong move after completing 1 1/2 miles of the two-mile Carolina Cup, and easily held off Bill Pape’s Castle Hill to win the race for novices—horses in their first seasons of racing over fences—by seven lengths.
Check Mark Stables’ Willow U finished third in a field of 10, and Barracuda Stable’s Red Hammer was fourth.
The 85th Carolina Cup capped a picture-perfect day of racing at Springdale Course in Camden, S.C,, with spotless skies and temperatures in the high 70s for the afternoon’s six races.
Show Court is trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., who collected his third Carolina Cup as a trainer. A Camden resident, Kingsley trains at Springdale. Kingsley also trains Sue Sensor’s Top Striker, who won the $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) on the Springdale Course last November.
He said that 2016 import Show Court ran as he had hoped. “He did everything right,” said Kingsley, who gave the Irish-bred a tightener with a third-place finish in an Aiken Spring Steeplechase training race a week earlier.
Red Hammer went to the lead shortly after the start and opened a sizable lead on the field, with Mitchell keeping Show Court in touch with the pace. As Red Hammer began to tire on the final turn, Mitchell went low in the saddle and pushed Show Court to the front.
“I wanted to keep him handy and just roll off the corner,” said Mitchell, a jockey in England who has been riding in New Zealand. “I wanted to make up ground over the last two [fences], and he went away from them nicely.”
Castle Hill passed Red Hammer at the final fence and chased Show Court to the finish line. Ridden by Darren Nagle, Castle Hill finished 2 3/4 lengths clear of Check Mark Stables’ Willow U, winner of last fall’s Springdale Stakes for fillies and mares.
Red Hammer finished fourth, and Get Ready Set Goes, the reigning novice and female champion, checked in fifth.
Show Court, a maiden winner over hurdles in his native Ireland in 2015, ran the Carolina Cup’s 2 1/8 miles in 3:56.80 on turf rated as good.