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Carolina Cup Recap:

Historic Heart is All Heart in Cup Triumph


Trainer Arch Kingsley and jockey Gerard Galligan were three-time winners on Saturday’s six-race card, but shared the spotlight with an up-and-coming novice star who has now captured two of his three U.S. starts.

In his brief U.S. career, Atlantic Friends Racing’s Historic Heart has turned heads with a pair of scintillating performances. In his first National Steeplechase Association start after a career in Europe, the Irish-bred was sent off as the favorite in the $50,000 Harry Harris four-year-old stakes at Far Hills last October, rallying over the last to collar Bogey’s Image by three-quarters of a length while lugging high weight of 157 pounds.

In his next effort, at Callaway Gardens, Historic Heart rallied strongly to finish a barely beaten second to two-time 2021 stakes winner City Dreamer. On Saturday, the five-year-old, trained by Keri Brion and ridden by Parker Hendriks, looked like he’d have to settle for third in the $50,000 Carolina Cup novice stakes. With pacesetters Presence of Mind and Decisive Triumph drawing away from the field with two fences to go in the 2 1/8-mile race, Historic Heart had ground to make up, a deficit that remained as the duo cleared the last. But it’s a long way from the last fence to the wire at Springdale Race Course, giving the long-winded gelding plenty of time to rev up his engines and narrow the gap. As the trio neared the wire, Historic Heart came flying on the outside to win going away by three lengths. Bruton Street-US’ Presence of Mind held the place spot, while Decisive Triumph was third.

High times for High Mounte in maiden claimer

In the opener, a $20,000 maiden claiming hurdle, a field of 10 faced the starter, but only five finished. The winner was Richard Colton’s High Mounte, an Irish-bred seven-year-old by the mighty Sea The Stars, who won eight of nine and nearly $7 million. Not only that, High Mounte’s dam was an unraced daughter of the marvelous Kalanisi, a two-time G1 winner (Dubai Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf). Making just his second NSA start, High Mounte, under Gerard Galligan, raced near the back early, rallied nearing the far turn the second and final time around, and snatched the lead from CFC Stables’ Undercover Rowdy at the top of the straightaway. From there, High Mounte shook clear before the final fence and was eased across the wire, 14 ½ lengths ahead of Northwood Stable’s Market Bubble.

“Aiken” in Camden

In another impressive performance, Ashwell Stable LLC’s Cup of Aiken, a lightly raced four-year-old bred in Pennsylvania by Jonathan Sheppard, stormed home by 10 lengths in a $20,000 filly & mare maiden special weights hurdle. Trained by Leslie Young and ridden by Harry Beswick — who teamed up for victory last week in Aiken with Bee Major — Cup of Aiken was making only her third career start. The daughter of Sheppard’s homebred stakes-winning mare Brilliant Match proved second best, to Circus, in her debut at Shawan Downs in September, then was beaten by a little over five lengths at Foxfield.

The race began with Carrington Holdings’ Cainudothetwist spurting off to a huge lead, running and jumping easily and all alone the first time around the course. The leader maintained her commanding advantage around the clubhouse turn and up the backside the final time. Midway up the backside, Cup of Aiken began to breathe down the neck of the tiring pacesetter, opening up a lead of 20 lengths or more, before gearing down and coasting to the wire.

Colton, Kingsley, Galligan team up for second victory on card

In the third, owner Richard Colton, jockey Gerard Galligan, and trainer Arch Kingsley joined forces once again to capture the $25,000 maiden special weights hurdle with Mr. Alec, a veteran of 11 starts on the flat at Belmont Park, Aqueduct, Monmouth Park, and Keeneland.

Making only his second effort over jumps — his first coming with a sharp runner-up finish to Frontline Citizen at Callaway Gardens in November — Mr. Alec stalked the pace, cruised to the lead with two fences remaining, and widened his margin past the last to win by 6 1/4 lengths. Galligan was so impressed, he hailed him as a horse to watch this summer at Saratoga.

Tom Garner rides Court Ruler to victory in the handicap hurdle. ©Tod Marks

Order in the “Court”

Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ Court Ruler, a Saratoga allowance winner in 2020 over solid runners like Global Freedom, Zoom Zoom Zoe, Prayer Hope, and Brianbakescookies, earned his first trip to the winner’s circle since that race, scoring by 2 1/2 in a $25,000 handicap for horses rated at 115 or less. Ridden by Tom Garner, Court Ruler gave trainer Leslie Young a double for the day.

But victory didn’t come easy. After a pace-stalking trip, Court Ruler rallied heading toward the last and began to draw clear. However, Melissa Cantacuzene’s Yankee Doodle Boy, with Barry Foley, was just getting started. After making up ground heading up the backside the final time, Court Ruler led over the last only to be collared by Yankee Doodle Boy in deep stretch. But Garner roused his mount, who responded quickly and drew off with authority.

Sherkali gives Galligan, Kingsley three winners on the day

In the training flat race, Hurricana Farm’s Sherkali, who boasts two seconds in his first three tries over hurdles, strided out to victory in the 1 1/2-mile finale. The six-year-old Irish-bred finished 3 1/4 lengths ahead of runnerup Kelmscott, who was making his U.S. debut for Silverton Hill and Leslie Young, with Harry Beswick aboard. Hudson River Farm’s Iranistan, a stakes winner with seven wins in 18 career starts and earnings of more than a quarter-million dollars, was third in a prep for bigger events down the road.

Trainer Arch Kingsley and jockey Gerard Galligan were three-time winners on Saturday’s six-race card. ©Tod Marks

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