Two to go. The steeplechase season is reaching its final stages with just two race meets left on the 2013 calendar. Sunday, the troops head to Charleston, S.C. for a five-race card at the Charleston Cup.
The feature is a $25,000 optional claimer with a mix of recent winners and an old pro or two. Far Hills maiden victor Canaveral leads the way along with Jamarjo, but they will get an experience test from the likes of Dugan and Maya Charli.
The TIHR handicapping challenge is in deep stretch too, with Joe showing the way with 51 wins to 44 for Sean and 40 for Tom.
First Race. $10,000 maiden claiming hurdle with big field of 10. Complete Dyno and Alfarabi exit the same race at Aiken, where they were second and third behind General Partner. Wait Outside drops way down in class, as does Kitten In May.
- Joe: Wait Outside, Kitten In May, Complete Dyno.
- Sean: Wait Outside, Kitten In May, Slice Of Gold.
- Tom: Wait Outside, Slice of Gold, Kitten in May.
Second Race. $10,000 conditioned claimer with six. General Partner fires right back after winning a maiden claimer at Aiken. Saint Dynaformer seeks to halt a nine-race losing streak. Ez Mac won over the course, easily, last season.
- Joe: General Partner, Ez Mac, Saint Dynaformer.
- Sean: Saint Dynaformer, El Season, General Partner.
- Tom: El Season, Saint Dynaformer, Ez Mac.
Third Race. $15,000 maiden hurdle with seven. Nice group for this late in the season. Royal Bench won a stakes on the flat at Delaware Park, was a beast on the flat in France and has earned more than $1 million. Silver Rock won five times on the flat. Top Striker ran some good race son the flat, too. Artie's Jasper is out of steeplechase winner Slew's Peak. Sondheim could be any kind.
- Joe: Royal Bench, Sondheim, Top Striker.
- Sean: Royal Bench, Sondheim, Top Striker.
- Tom: Sondheim, Royal Bench, Artie's Jasper.
Fourth Race. $25,000 optional claiming hurdle with six. The feature came up pretty tough with Jamarjo (never worse than third in six American starts) meeting the talented Canaveral (who won a tough race at Far Hills). Front-running mare Maya Charli adds some intrigue and Cognashene is capable of a good effort. Dugan makes his 51st career starts for Jonathan Sheppard. Arrakis won this race last year, is 2-for-4 over jumps, but makes his first start in a year.
- Joe: Canaveral, Jamarjo, Arrakis.
- Sean: Canaveral, Jamarjo, Cognashene.
- Tom: Canaveral, Jamarjo, Maya Charli.
Sixth race. Training flat going 1 1/2 miles. Six in the field including two 3-year-olds to watch, David Jack and Codrington College.
- Joe: David Jack, Harmony Bay, Codrington College.
- Sean: Harmony Bay, Codrington College, David Jack.
- Tom: Nationbuilder, Codrington College, David Jack.
As usual this late in the season, the NSA standings will be a sub-plot to the day. Jonathan Sheppard leads Jack Fisher in the trainers' standings 19-17. Darren Nagle leads Paddy Young 14-13 among the jockeys.
If you're in the mood for some history, racing in Charleston has a long history dating to 1734 believe it or not. The South Carolina Jockey Club, still the official organizer of these races, was founded in 1786 and hosted races at the Washington Course for almost a century.