The $20,000 Sandhills Cup, feature race of the 61st annual Stoneybrook Steeplechase, attracted a well-matched field for the optional allowance hurdle on Saturday, April 7. First post time is 1:30 p.m. for the five-race program at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy, a well-bred Grand Slam gelding who is making his first 2012 start. A maiden winner in 2010, History Boy was on the sidelines for almost a year before coming back with a respectable second-place finish to novice champion Lake Placid in the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 22.
He was unable to duplicate that performance in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia on Nov. 5 and finished sixth. Danielle Hodsdon will ride six-year-old History Boy.
Irvin S. Naylor, 2011’s champion owner and the current season’s leader, will be shooting for his third straight victory in a feature race with Union Army. The five-year-old Dixie Union gelding kicked off his 2012 season with a second-place finish in the $25,000 Celebrate Aiken allowance race at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase in South Carolina on March 24.
The Union Army team includes trainer J. W. Delozier and jockey Ross Geraghty, who also accounted for the $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup with Pullyourfingerout at Aiken Spring and the $50,000 Carolina Cup (Gr. 3) in Camden, S.C., won by Eclipse Award champion Black Jack Blues on March 31.
Owner-trainer Karen M. Gray will offer her hearty competitor Cuse for a $20,000 claiming price in the Sandhills Cup. The silvery veteran won three races last year, including an allowance hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway. Apprentice jockey Gus Dahl has the mount.
At age 11, Cuse is the Sandhills Cup’s oldest competitor, and the youngest is four-year-old Class Brahms, bred and owned by Mede Cahaba Stable. The Brahms gelding won his maiden victory at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg on Oct. 2 and then finished fourth behind three-year-old champion Wanganui in the Gladstone Stakes at Far Hills and the Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial at the Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C. Trained by Lilith Boucher, Class Brahms will be ridden by her husband, Richard Boucher.
Magalen O. Bryant’s Classic Bridges will be shooting for his second victory of the young season in the Sandhills Cup. Trained by Neil Morris, the Sky Classic gelding won the $15,000 James W. Maloney maiden hurdle at Aiken Spring. Jacob Roberts will be in the saddle.
Looking to turn the corner into the next level of competition will be Ivy Hill Stable’s On the Corner, who won a maiden claimer at Morven Park in Virginia on Oct. 8. The Smart Strike gelding is trained by Alicia Murphy.