Picks & Preview for Charleston jump meet

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Far Hills winner Kyogo will be tough to handle
in the feature at Charleston. Tod Marks photo

This isn’t the end of the steeplechase season, but you can see it from here. After carding 17 races last weekend, the circuit goes to South Carolina for the Steeplechase at Charleston Sunday afternoon. The five-race card starts at 1 p.m. and is the second-to-last meet of the season as Aiken finishes things up next Saturday.

Last week’s tripleheader produced all sorts of winners.

At Callaway Gardens, Cool Jet (Riverdee Stable, Jack Fisher, Graham Watters) won the featured novice hurdle by 2 lengths over The Hero Next Door. The Irish-bred sons of Jet Away have met on the track three times this year. At Nashville in May, The Hero Next Door looked like a winner until he fell at the last and Cool Jet picked up the pieces. At Far Hills in October, The Hero Next Door finished a game second to Abaan as Cool Jet labored home fourth. At Callaway, The Hero Next Door made the running and had everybody scrambling for a bit until Cool Jet won a stretch battle by 2 lengths. They’ll all be fun to watch next year. Other winners at Callaway included Foxy Walk (Michael Smith, Leslie Young, Freddie Procter) in a maiden romp; Agitare (Molly and Paul Willis and partners, Keri Brion, Watters) in a maiden claimer; cool veteran Animal Kingston (Will Russell, Neil Morris and Ricky Doyle) in the handicap hurdle. The son of Animal Kingdom has won five of 19 over jumps with six seconds and three thirds after starting out with Todd Pletcher on the flat. Court Ruler won the cross-country timber for Leipers Fork, Young and Procter.

At Montpelier, Zabeel Champion won the featured Noel Laing as he put his experience to good use over the natural brush fences and won by 3 1/4 lengths for English-based owners Martin Tedham and Wasdell Properties. Bernie Dalton rode the winner (2-for-3 in the U.S.) for Fisher. Right Tempo, trained by Young for Potter Group and Ashwell Stable and ridden by Jamie Bargary, won the Marion du Pont Scott Stakes for fillies/mares, going one better than her second at Far Hills. Say Goodbye, a winner in New Jersey, wound up last of four after making the early running under 165 pounds. Potus won a 110 handicap for Riverdee, Fisher and Bargary; Trainer/jockey Sean McDermott doubled with Maryland-breds, taking a maiden claimer with Vivian Rall’s Icandothat (by Divining Rod) and a maiden with South Branch Equine’s Casamo (by Mosler). First-time starter Factotum won a maiden claimer for Celtic Venture Stable, Joe Davies and Teddy Davies.

At the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, Royal Ruse won the big one for Charlie Fenwick, Sanna Neilson and jockey Gerard Galligan. The Hat Trick gelding had finished second in the 2022 race and won an allowance over the course in 2020. Paddy’s Crown won the maiden timber for Adlestrop Hill, Emily Hannum and Teddy Davies. Rhythmia captured the allowance for Upland Partners, Todd McKenna and Procter.

The TIHR autumn handicappers’ race got a little tighter. Tom had six winners on the weekend (Court Ruler, Foxy Walk, Lord Donegal, Potus, Casamo and Zabeel Champion. Sean had five (Court Ruler, Foxy Walk, Lord Donegal, Potus and Factotum). Joe only managed four (Foxy Walk, Lord Donegal, Icandothat and Zabeel Champion). Joe leads with 15 winners. Sean and Tom are close behind with 13 each.

If you are watching the late-season championship races, Irv Naylor ($564,350) is home free among the owners though he’s one behind Riverdee Stable (11-10) by wins. Leslie Young is also home free among the trainers with a 10-win lead (32-22) on Jack Fisher. Fisher leads the earnings race by more than $100,000 and could pass $1 million on the year though he has no runners Saturday. Graham Watters leads Harry Beswick 18-16 for the jockeys’ title, with Freddie Procter third with 14. Watters also leads the jocks by earnings.

Off to Charleston, home to some of the first Thoroughbred racing in North America via the South Carolina Jockey Club in 1734. You can watch via livestream on the NSA website.

First race. $15,000 maiden claiming hurdle going 2 1/16 miles. Six contest the opener. Beowulf leads the group with 11 starts over jumps. Carloun fell in his only try, last year, but has been active on the flat. D’Arpino B C was fourth last week. Secret Soulmate was fourth at Foxfield. Finding Freedom needs to find his form from March. Prophets Voice debuts.

  • Joe: Prophets Voice, Carloun, Beowulf.
  • Tom: Secret Soulmate, Prophets Voice, Beowulf.
  • Sean: Finding Freedom, Secret Soulmate, Beowulf.

Second race. $30,000 maiden hurdle going 2 1/16 miles. We’re down to four runners. Three-year-old Snow Geese was third at Shawan. Mr Jefferson ought to be better than his two starts over jumps. In Effect looked OK at Great Meadow and ought to move forward. Outperform gives Gun Runner an early jump runner. 

  • Joe: In Effect, Snow Geese, Mr Jefferson.
  • Tom: Snow Geese, In Effect, Mr Jefferson.
  • Sean: In Effect, Snow Geese, Mr Jefferson.

Third race. $20,000 handicap hurdle for horses rated 110 or lower, going 2 1/16 miles. Seven handicappers look to finish the year on a high note. Five of the group are mares and two, Bourbon Diversion and Met In Miami, carry the 158-pound high weight with ratings of 108. Seismic Wave has been busy this year and will be tough if he can find his best form. He was an even third at Montpelier and fourth at Middleburg after all but falling in a messy race at Foxfield (which also included todays’ runners New Appointment, Oscar Winner and Marshella).

  • Joe: Seismic Wave, Marshella, Met In Miami.
  • Tom: Bourbon Diversion, Met In Miami, Durragh.
  • Sean: Seismic Wave, Bourbon Diversion, New Appointment.

Fourth race. $35,000 Alston Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds going 2 1/16 miles. Rookie hurdlers clash in a race that attracted Far Hills winner Kyogo (who won at Perth in Scotland in September), but not runner-up Our Boy Wes or interesting American newcomer St. John’s. Shawan winner Lightning Ridge returns and should appreciate the firmer going. Clifton Down struggled at Far Hills. Get Khozy tuned up with a flat win at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. They’re all chasing Kyogo if he keeps his form.

  • Joe: Lightning Ridge, Kyogo, Clifton Down.
  • Tom: Kyogo, Clifton Down, Lightning Ridge.
  • Sean: Kyogo, Lightning Ridge, Clifton Down.

Fifth race. Training flat going 1 1/2 miles. Three-runner race including Montpelier dirt winner Lord Donegal and Arch Kingsley runners Bourbon Strait and Fingal.

  • Joe: Fingal, Lord Donegal, Bourbon Strait.
  • Tom: Fingal, Bourbon Strait, Lord Donegal.
  • Sean: Fingal, Lord Donegal, Bourbon Strait.

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