Throwback Thursday: Charley’s Gold Cup

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In honor of Charley Strittmatter, who died in January, today’s Throwback Thursday is dedicated to the longtime steeplechase owner and NSA board member. We had to climb into the attic and find the printed pages of Steeplechase Times in 1996 (there aren’t any PDF files from back then) to find an article on Strittmatter’s Big Boo Boo when he upset the International Gold Cup.

Featured on page 3 of Vol. 3, No. 13, Big Boo Boo shared the pages with Serenity Prayer (in black and white on the cover), Chris Lyons after he won the Willowdale feature on Jingoistic, a Where’s Pepo timber double and editorial on Montpelier banning Lasix.

Rest in peace, Charley. We know you’ll like this one.

‘Boo Boo’ bucks Jakes’ Cup
Timber upset leads hat trick for Miller barn

By Joe Clancy Jr.

THE PLAINS, Va. – Buck Jakes, two-time defending International Gold Cup champion, towers over most horses. The striking gray holds the track record in America’s toughest steeplechase. Though winless this year, he stands out in almost any race he enters.

Nobody told Big Boo Boo.

Brown, 10 years old, ordinary, and 0-for-his-last-7, Big Boo Boo ran down Buck Jakes to win the prestigious $35,000 Gold Cup timber stakes Oct. 19 at Great Meadow.

The win delighted owner Charley Strittmatter and a large contingent of “Boo Boo” fans, and left jockey Chip Miller with a tear in his eye.

“I can’t believe this horse won a race like this, the Gold Cup,” Miller said afterward, shaking his head. “I knew the only way Boo Boo was going to win was to ask him to run late because he can’t run and jump the way Buck Jakes does.”

After a painfully slow pace, Miller let Buck Jakes (Anne Moran) take the advantage heading to the 3 ½-mile race’s final four fences. With two fences left, Big Boo Boo still trailed by five lengths. Buck Jakes took his lead into the last, and looked to leap into history as the race’s first three-time winner in 59 runnings.

But Big Boo Boo picked up the pieces, and the $17,500 winner’s check, with a late run as Buck Jakes tired in the final strides. Tarsky wound up third.

The win confirmed Strittmatter’s faith. His horse won over timber in 1994 for trainer Chuck Lawrence, but missed 1995 with an injury.

“I had never met Bruce or Chip Miller before but we wanted a trainer and I must say I just looked in the paper (Steeplechase Times, naturally),” said Strittmatter, who lives in Flint Hill, Va. “I sent Boo Boo to Bruce in January and I couldn’t have made a better choice.”