This year’s feature race at the 47th renewal of the Aiken Spring Steeplechase includes the past two winners of the Imperial Cup. Irv Naylor’s Pullyourfingerout (IRE), who won the 2012 edition of the race by 11 3/4-lenghts against a short field, will have the 201l winner as one of his rivals as Nicole Perry’s Oakwood Stable’s Country Cousin is also among the entries for the 2-mile Grade 3, $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup over national fences on Saturday at Ford Conger Field.
Sue Sensor’s graded stakes winner, Sunshine Numbers, the 2009-2010 New York-bred Steeplechase Horse of the Year, and winner of the 2011 Grade 3 Carolina Cup at Springdale Race Course and 2012 Hobkirk Hill allowance race at Springdale last fall; the durbale campaigner and multiple allowance winner Cuse, and Clorevia Farm’s Extraextraordinary, a 6-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway conditioned by Doug Fout, who won a starter allowance his last time out at Great Meadow in his final start of 2012, round out the field.
Karen Gray’s Cuse, a 12-year-old New York-bred gelding, has made 75 lifetime starts. and the veteran campaigner has shown no signs of slowing down as he won a 2 1/8-mile allowance race Oct. 6 at Middleburg by 5 3/4-lengths, the second of his two victories in 2012, after winning earlier in the year at Stoneybrook. Jockey Gustav Dahl will ride, and Cuse will be the race’s lightweight, carrying 140 pounds.
The 11-year-old dark bay gelding Sunshine Numbers, has been assigned 150 pounds, and won his last start in 2012, scoring a 10 1/2-length win under the confident handling of his trainer Arch Kingsley, Jr. The leading steeplechase jockey by money earned in 1997 and 1999 will be in the irons on Saturday. Sunshine Numbers’ win in the 2011 Carolina Cup by 27 1/4-lengths with jockey Jody Petty up, still has people talking.
“He’s as happy as he can be,” said Kingsley, Jr., in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “He’s an old war horse. His heart’s in it as much as ever.”
Clorevia Farm’s Extraextraordinary won twice in 2012, breaking his maiden at Colonial Downs on June 2, uncoiling a powerful turn of foot and closing on the outside to get up in time to win a 2 1/4-mile race at the New Kent, Va. racetrack. The 6-year-old bay gelding is trained by Doug Fout, and will be ridden by Jeff Murphy. Extraextraordinary has been assigned 144 pounds.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Fout, in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “He’s been training all winter and training great.”
The 2012 winner of the Imperial Cup is coming off a 364 day layoff, and will be saddled by a new trainer for this year’s race. Jockey Ross Geraghty get’s the return call on Irv Naylor’s Pullyourfingerout (IRE), but trainer Brianne Slater will saddle the 6-year-old son of Indian Haven (GB). The stakes winner had been conditioned previoulsy by J.W. Delozier, III. Pullyourfingerout will carry 148 pounds.
The race’s 2011 winner Country Cousin is the race’s highweight, and will have an impost of 152 pounds. Country Cousin is coming off a second place effort in last week’s Charleston Trials in a 1 3/8-mile race on the turf. Jockey Roddy MacKenzie gets the return call on the 10-year-old son of Lear Fan owned by Nicole Perry’s Oakwood Stable. The dark bay gelding who spent the winter at W.C. and Iris Freeman’s Chime Bell Farm is conditioned by Julie Gomena. Country Cousin placed second in three consecutive stakes in 2012 including the Grade 3 Carolina Cup, Grade 3 Temple Gwathmey Hurdle Handicap, and the Grade 2 Marcellus Frost Handicap.