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 is an Irish horse that won the 2012 edition of the race by 11¾-lenghts against a short field. Today, Pullyourfingerout will have the 2011 winner as one of his rivals, as Nicole Perry’s Oakwood Stable’s Country Cousin is also in the field. Both are among the entries for the 2-mile Grade 3, $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup over national fences at Ford Conger Field.
Also in the field is Sue Sensor’s graded stakes winner, Sunshine Numbers. The 2009-10 New York-bred Steeplechase Horse of the Year previously won the 2011 Grade 3 Carolina Cup at Springdale Race Course and the 2012 Hobkirk Hill allowance race at Springdale last fall. Another runner is Clorevia Farm’s Extraextraordinary, a 6-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway conditioned by Doug Fout. Extraextraordinary won twice in 2012, including a starter allowance his last time out at Great Meadow in his final start of the year. He has been assigned 144 pounds and will be ridden by Jeff Murphy.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Fout said Wednesday. “He’s been training all winter and training great.”
Rounding out the field is the durable campaigner and multiple-allowance winner Cuse. Karen Gray’s 12-year-old New York-bred gelding, has made 75 lifetime starts and the veteran campaigner has shown no signs of slowing down.
He won a 2⅛-mile allowance race Oct. 6 at Middleburg by 5¾-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 10½-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 27¼-lengths with jockey Jody Petty up, still has people talking.
“He’s as happy as he can be,” Kingsley, Jr. said Wednesday. “He’s an old war horse. His heart’s in it as much as ever.”
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 will get the return call on Pullyourfingerout, but trainer Brianne Slater will saddle the 6-year-old son of Indian Haven (GB). The stakes winner had been previously conditioned by J.W. Delozier, III. Pullyourfingerout will carry 148 pounds.
The 2011 winner, Country Cousin, is the race’s heavyweight with an impost of 152 pounds. Country Cousin’s 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. 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.
Aiken Spring Steeplechase
The C.W. Jackson
Training Flat 1 1/4-mile on the turf
1. Shady Valley, 155, G.Dahl, Karen Gray, Karen Gray
2. Hallam, 155, R. Walsh, Augustin Stables, Richard Valentine
3. Alajmal 155, R, Geraghty, Gregory Hawkins, Janet Elliot
4. Mr. Universo (BRZ) 155, P. Young, Leslie Young, Leslie Young
5. Seven in Heaven, 155, D. Nagle, Mrs. Charles Fenwick, Jr., Jonathan Sheppard
6. Decoy Daddy (IRE) 155, R. Geraghty, Irvin Naylor, Brianne Slater
7. Wild for Gold, 155, B. Dalton, Eugene Weymouth, Janet Elliot
8. Saint Dynaformer, 155, B, Dalton, Kinross Farm, Neil Morris
The James W. Maloney
Maiden Hurdle, 2 miles over National Fences
1. Mr. Buckaneer 154, R. Geraghty, Glenview Farm, Joe Hanson
2. Pleasant Woodman 154, J. Murphy, Farm d’Allie, Racing Doug Fout
3. Gawaarib, 154, R. Walsh, Mrs. George Ohrstrom, Jr., Richard Valentine
4. Complete Dyno, 154, R. Boucher, Why Not Racing, LLC, Lilith Boucher
5. Radical Chic, 144, D. Nagle, Hudson River Farms, Jonathan Sheppard
6. Manacor (IRE) 154, P. Young, Daybreak Stables, Jimmy Day
The G.H. Bostwick
Maiden Claiming Hurdle, 2 miles over National Fences
1. Meeting, 146, P. Young, Dale Theil, Rickey Hendriks
2. Papa Carlos, 146, R. Boucher, Teddy Alexander, Lilith Boucher
3. Brace, 156, D. Nagle, Kinross Farm, Neil Morris
4. Lucky Will, 148, W. McCarthy, Carrington Racing Stable, Arch Kingsley, Jr.
5. Apostasy, 138, R. Walsh, Augustin Stable, R. Valentine
6. Personal Fight, 146, B. Dalton, Magalen O. Bryant, Neil Morris
7. Dax 156, R. Mackenzie, Move Up Stable, Katherine Neilson
The Celebrate Aiken
Allowance Optional Claiming Hurdle
2 Miles over National Fences
1a. Call Me Sonny, 144, R. Geraghty, Dale Theil, Ricky Hendriks
2. Southern Admiral 144, G. Dahl, Robin Hanson, Joe Hanson
3. Dugan, 144, D. Nagle, William Pape, Jonathan Sheppard
4. Sulwaan (IRE), 144, P. Young, Magalen O. Bryant, Jimmy Day
5. Complete Zen, 144, R. Boucher, Why Not Racing, LLC, Lilith Boucher
6a. Sir Dynamite, 144, M. Watts, Dale Theil, Britt Graham
7. More Tea Vicar, 146, B.Dalton, Kinross Farm, Neil Morris
Grade 3 Budweiser Imperial Cup
Hurdle Handicap Stakes
2 Miles Over National Fences
1. Cuse, 140, G. Dahl, Karen Gray, Karen Gray
2. Sunshine Numbers, 150, A. Kingsley, Jr. Mrs. George Sensor, Arch Kingsley, Jr.
3. Extraextraordinary, 144, J. Murphy, Clorevia Farm, Doug Fout
4. Pullyourfingerout (IRE), 148, R. Geraghty, Irvin Naylor, Brianne Slater
5. Country Cousin, 152, R. Mackenzie, Oakwood Stable, Julie Gomena
The Ford D. Conger
Conditioned Claiming Hurdle
2 Miles over National Fences
1. Sumo Power, 145, G. Dahl, Manown Kisor, Jr., Michael Berryman
2. Bold Adventure, 158, J. Murphy, William Wofford, William Wofford
3. Classic Bridges, 150, B. Dalton, Magalen O. Bryant, Neil Morris
4. Dilizan (IRE), 144, R. Geraghty, Irvin Naylor, Brianne Slater
5. Wolverton, 155, P. Young, Daybreak Stables, Jimmy Day
6. Ez Mac, 155, W. McCarthy, Mark Buyck, Jr., Arch Kingsley, Jr.
7. El Season, 150, D. Nagle, William Pape, Jonathan Sheppard
8. Moving Violation, 140, M. Watts, Laura Thiel Shull, Britt Graham
9. Saint Nicholas, 158, R. Mackenzie, Noble Stables, Neil Morris