Sue Sensor’s Top Striker, an impressive winner of the Carolina Cup in March, heads a strong field of steeplechasing’s rising stars in the $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, signature race of the 19th annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase at Brooklandwood Race Course near Charlotte on Saturday, April 26. First post time is 1:30 p.m.
Sponsored by BAE Systems, the Queen’s Cup headlines a six-race program offering $105,000 in purses. The Queen’s Cup features novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences.
Top Striker gave notice that he is a horse on the rise with a thoroughly professional performance in the $50,000 Carolina Cup for novices on March 29. Ridden by Willie McCarthy, Top Striker stalked the early pace, went past the pacesetter when he wished, and drew clear to an 11 1/2-length victory. McCarthy, currently leading the National Steeplechase Association jockey standings, will be in the saddle for the Queen’s Cup.
Trainer Arch Kingsley, who won the 2012 Queen’s Cup with Baltic Shore, will be looking for Top Striker to win his first hurdle race away from Camden’s Springdale Course. The Van Nistelrooy gelding won his maiden victory over hurdles at the Colonial Cup meet in November.
Top Striker will be up against some accomplished novice competitors in the 2 3/8-mile Queen’s Cup. Michael Moran’s Staying On won the William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at Belmont Park in September and was narrowly beaten in the first division of the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J. Jack Fisher, who shared the 2013 trainer title with Jonathan Sheppard, named Jeff Murphy to ride Irish-bred Staying On.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard entered Bill Pape’s Powerofone, a maiden winner last year who finished third in the second division of the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Bernie Dalton has the mount.
Elizabeth Voss Murray has taken over the stable of her late father, Maryland horseman Tom Voss, and she will send out The Fields Stable’s Kingdom for the Queen’s Cup. Kingdom delivered Tom Voss’ final steeplechase victory when he won a Colonial Cup allowance hurdle last November. Paddy Young, who clinched his fourth jockey title with Kingdom’s victory, will ride.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot named stable jockey Harry Haynes to ride Edition Farm’s Run to Class for the Queen’s Cup. After winning his maiden victory at the Virginia Fall Races, the homebred was unplaced in two stakes races for three-year-olds, the Gladstone Stakes at Far Hills and the Colonial Cup’s Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial.
Who do you like in the Queen’s Cup?
Kingdom. 2009 b. g., Louis Quatorze—Distant Drumroll, by Eastern Echo. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2013 record: 10-2-2-1, $63,910. 8-1 odds. Closed out busy season with gritty victory in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle. Fifth in first division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 19. Had second and third in Saratoga optional allowances after fourth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. Won Fair Hill maiden race by 19 lengths on May 25. Finished second in the 2012 Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial Stakes. Mimi Voss-bred is half brother to two-time filly and mare champion Guelph (2005 and 2008).
Top Striker. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy–Two’s Cozy, by Cozzene. Owner: Sue Sensor. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2014 record: 1-1-0-0, $30,000. 2013 record: 3-1-1-0, $17,700. 3-1 odds. Scored impressive victory in Carolina Cup in his 2014 debut. Broke through for maiden win over hurdles at the 2013 Colonial Cup meet after second in maiden hurdle at the Charleston Cup.
Awesome Pearl. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Awesome Again–Gottcha Last, by Pleasant Tap. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2013 record: 4-2-0-0, $22,800. 10-1 odds. Won the Montpelier Cup optional allowance hurdle at the Montpelier Hunt Races in November after maiden victory at International Gold Cup.
Run to Class. 2010 b. g., Read the Footnotes–Runaway Zia, by Runaway Groom. Owner: Edition Farm. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Harry Haynes. 2013 record: 3-1-0-0, $8,000. 15-1 odds. New York-bred made a promising start over fences with a victory at Virginia Fall but then was unplaced in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes and Colonial Cup’s Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial, both for three-year-olds.
Powerofone. 2009 b. g., A.P. Indy—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2013 record: 8-2-1-2, $59,310. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,250. 10-1 odds. Tired late to finish third in the second division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Finished game second in William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at Belmont Park. Started 2013 with two wins, in Carolina Cup maiden race and optional allowance at the Atlanta Steeplechase. Ended year with fourth in Noel Laing at Montpelier and third in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle.
Forgotten Man. 2008 ch. g., Bowman’s Band—Hark the Sound (GB), by Robellino. Owner: Betsy Mead. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. 2014 record: 1-0-1-0, $4,500. 2013 record: 7-1-0-2, $29,850. 10-1 odds. Homebred finished second in Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle at Stoneybrook Steeplechase in North Carolina on April 5. Won 2013 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle by a nose after third-place finishes in Carolina Cup and Saratoga optional allowance.
Staying On (Ire). 2005 b. g., Invincible Spirit (Ire)—Lakatoi (GB), by Saddler’s Hall (Ire). Owner: Michael J. Moran. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2013 record: 5-1-2-0, $65,400. 7-2 odds. Scored game upset victory in Belmont’s 2013 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 19, then was nosed out in first division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Also had second in Parx optional allowance in June.