Dogwood Stable’s Street Fight, a courageous second in last year’s $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3), returns to Aiken’s Ford Conger Field on Saturday for another shot at the featured race of the 49th annual Aiken Spring Steeplechase.
The Aiken Spring races, a rite of spring in South Carolina, kicks off the 2015 National Steeplechase Association racing season. First post time is 1 p.m.
Willie McCarthy, the reigning champion jockey, again will be aboard Street Fight for Aiken-based Dogwood and trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. In his only 2014 start, the Street Sense gelding followed front-running Pleasant Woodman in the Budweiser Imperial Cup and held on stoutly to claim second money.
Trainer Lilith Boucher entered a duo for the two-mile Budweiser Imperial Cup over National Fences. Why Not Racing’s Class Bopper, winner of the 2010 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), carries the Budweiser Imperial Cup’s 148-pound highweight and will be ridden by Richard Boucher, the trainer’s husband.
Class Bopper split last season between hurdle races and flat starts, and his lone victory was a score in $15,000 claiming hurdle at the Dogwood Classic in Virginia. He subsequently finished fourth in the Valentine Memorial starter stakes at the Fair Hill Races in Maryland.
Lilith Boucher also entered a new member of her stable, William E. Riddle Jr.’s Absolum, who won an optional allowance hurdle at last year’s Middleburg Spring Races before losing his jockey in Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) in May and falling in a Parx Racing allowance hurdle. Darren Nagle will ride. The trainer scratched Marq Your Bible, who will start in the preceding race, the $25,000 Charles S. Bird optional allowance hurdle.
Completing the Budweiser Imperial Cup field is Stonelea Stable’s Balance the Budget, a 2014 maiden hurdle winner who finished third in the Budweiser Holiday Cup at Aiken Fall. Julie Gomena trains the Bellamy Road gelding for Stonelea’s Nina Bonnie, and Kieran Norris will ride.
Here is the field for the Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) in post-position order:
Class Bopper. 2005 ch. g., Bop—Class Vim, by Class Secret. Owner: Why Not Racing. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Jockey: Richard Boucher. 2014 NSA record: 3-1-0-0, $24,700. Resumed jump racing career in 2014 after spending 2013 on the flat. Began 2014 with a victory in Dogwood Classic claiming hurdle at Colonial Downs on April 5 before fourth in Valentine Memorial starter stakes and fifth in a Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle. Won the 2010 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial.
Street Fight. 2009 b. g., Street Sense–Reportedly, by Silver Deputy. Owner: Dogwood Stable. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2014 record: 1-0-1-0, $9,000. In his only 2014 start, ran a solid second in Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3). Ran a powerful race to win maiden debut over fences at Aiken Fall in 2013, then was eighth in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle.
Absolum. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Fantasticat—Zenon, by Hawkster. Owner: William E. Riddle. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Jockey:Darren Nagle. 2014 record: 3-1-0-0, $12,000. 2013 record: 5-1-1-1, $19,350. Won Middleburg Spring optional allowance hurdle last April before losing rider in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) and falling in Parx allowance hurdle. Won 2013 Middleburg Spring maiden claimer by 12 lengths before second in Radnor’s Thompson Memorial and third in a Parx optional allowance.
Balance the Budget. 2009 ch. g., Bellamy Road—Every Day Is Good, by El Corredor. Owner: Stonelea Stable. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2014 record: 7-1-1-2, $27,000. Concluded 2014 season with a third in Aiken Fall’s Budweiser Holiday Cup. Won Shawan Downs maiden hurdle by 5 1/2 lengths on Sept. 27 after close-up fourth in tough Saratoga Race Course allowance hurdle. Finished third in Parx Racing maiden hurdle on July 1.