Several of American Steeplechasing’s leading competitors, including the current season’s likely champion trainer and jockey, are headed for Sunday’s Charleston Cup, and also represented in the $25,000 Charleston Cup optional allowance hurdle is a well-known name in flat racing and breeding.
First post time for the 21st annual Charleston Cup at Stono Ferry Race Course is 1 p.m.
Jack Fisher has virtually locked up his third consecutive title as champion trainer, and he will be represented in the 2 1/4-mile Charleston Cup by Andre Brewster’s Selection Sunday, who most recently finished third in a $50,000 allowance hurdle at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey on Oct. 18. Sean McDermott will ride the five-year-old Harlan’s Holiday gelding.
Fisher won the training title by wins outright in 2012 and shared it last season with Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard. American Steeplechasing’s all-time leading trainer by wins and earnings, Sheppard will send out Mandola, who won a maiden hurdle at the Aiken Fall meet on Oct. 25.
The four-year-old Bluegrass Cat gelding is owned by Stone Farm, the sprawling Paris, Ky., property of Arthur W. Hancock III. The third generation of American breeding’s most esteemed family, Hancock has been a partner in two Kentucky Derby winners, Gato Del Sol in 1982 and Sunday Silence in 1989. Sunday Silence also won that year’s Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic before becoming Japan’s all-time leading sire.
Mandola will be ridden by Willie McCarthy, who is closing on his first title as champion jockey. The popular Irish-born jockey was aboard Mandola for his victory in the Aiken Fall race.
Ross Geraghty, currently second in the standings behind McCarthy, will be astride Mrs. Cary W. Jackson’s Northern Bay, who came back from a four-year absence to finish fifth in a $25,000 allowance flat race at the International Gold Cup in Virginia on Oct. 25. The nine-year-old is trained by Todd Wyatt, one of the sport’s rising young horsemen.
Leslie Young, American Steeplechasing leading female trainer, will send out Harmony Bay, who finished second to stablemate Mr. Universo in Aiken Fall’s $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup on Oct. 25. The trainer’s husband, four-time champion jockey Paddy Young, will ride.
Neil Morris, a leading Virginia trainer and a National Steeplechase Association director, will saddle Cognashene for owner Virginia’s Friendship Farm. The veteran Dynaformer gelding finished third in a $25,000 flat allowance race at the International Gold Cup. Jacob Roberts will ride.
Who do you like in the $25,000 Charleston Cup?
Selection Sunday. 2009 b. g., Harlan’s Holiday—Ntombi, by Quiet American. Owner: Andre Brewster. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. 2014 record: 6-1-2-1, $42,600. 2013 NSA record: No starts. 5-2 odds. Finished third in $50,000 Far Hills allowance hurdle on Oct. 18 after sixth in Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes a month earlier. Finished second in Saratoga allowance hurdle on July 23, then was well-beaten fourth in similar race on Aug. 18. In first career start over fences, drew away to a six-length victory in a $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 17, then was well-beaten second in Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle. Had two wins on the flat in New York.
Harmony Bay. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Doneraile Court—Risky Kitten, by Formal Gold. Owner: Boudnot Farm. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2014 NSA record: 3-1-1-0, $16,500. 7-2 odds. Finished second in Aiken Fall’s $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup on Oct. 25. In first start over fences, won a Foxfield Spring maiden hurdle on April 26 and then finished seventh in a Radnor Hunt Races allowance hurdle.
Northern Bay. 2005 b. g., Sligo Bay (Ire)—Hickory Crest, by Caro (Ire). Owner: Mrs. Cary W. Jackson. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,000. 2013 record: No starts. 6-1 odds. In first start since May 2011, finished fifth in an International Gold Cup allowance flat race on Oct. 25. Won Tryon’s Block House allowance hurdle in 2011 before going to the sidelines.
Mandola. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Bluegrass Cat—Vickey’s Echo, by Clever Trick. Owner: Stone Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2014 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 4-1 odds. In first start over fences, won an Aiken Fall maiden hurdle by a half-length. Won $50,000 maiden claimer at Arlington Park last year.
Cognashene. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer—Catch the Ring, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Virginia’s Friendship Farm. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Jacob Roberts. 2014 record: 4-0-0-3, $8,000. 2013 NSA record: 9-1-2-1, $29,200. 5-1 odds. Opened 2014 with third-place finish in Dogwood Classic allowance hurdle at Colonial Downs on April 5 before seventh in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. Most recently posted two third-place finishes, in a Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle on June 13 and an International Gold Cup allowance flat race on Oct. 25. Finished second in 2013 Charleston Cup.