A field of eight horses has been entered in the 22nd Annual Aiken Fall Steeplechase’s feature race, the $25,000, Budweiser Holiday Cup.
The 2¼-mile allowance race features stakes winner Cat Feathers. The New York-bred is the only mare in the field. The 5-year-old daughter of Catienus is conditioned by Kate Dalton, and has placed in two stakes in 2013, the Grade 3 David L. Zeke Ferguson Memorial Hurdle Stakes and the Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes at Saratoga.
Cat Feathers won the Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes at Saratoga Race Course as a 4-year-old. The mare finished fourth her last time out, in the William Entenmann Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 19. Jockey Bernie Dalton gets the return call on Cat Feathers.
William Pape’s veteran campaigner, Dugan, returns in the Holiday Cup. The 9-year-old chestnut gelding is a two-time winner in 2013, with an allowance score at Blockhouse in Tryon, N.C., and a claiming victory at Malvern. A three time winner in Aiken, including breaking his maiden over national fences at Ford Conger Field in 2009, Dugan is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. Dugan is a horse that has performed consistently, and one that Sheppard enjoys having around the barn.
“He’s doing fine,” said Sheppard, in a phone interview Thursday afternoon. “He had a prep race on the flat at Delaware Park, where he finished third. Saturday’s race is fairly tough. He’s been running in claiming company. He seems to like Aiken.”
Virginia Lazenby’s and Farm D’Allie Racing Stables’ Pleasant Woodman has also been entered in Saturday’s allowance race. The 5-year-old son of Woodman broke his maiden this spring in Aiken, and is coming into the race off a strong second place effort in Middleburg on Oct. 5. The Louisiana-bred gelding will once again be fitted with a pair of cheater blinkers to limit his peripheral vision to keep the horse focused, said Fout.
“He’s coming into the race perfect,” said Fout, in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. “The race in Middleburg set him up just right. Ricky’s (Hendriks) horse (Call me Sonny) was just a little bit better. He likes the course (Aiken). The tight course suits him. He had a couple of good efforts in Saratoga.”
The other horses in the field are Jamarjo (IRE), Sir Dynamite, Orchestra Leader, Nearby (GB) and EZ Mac.