Steeplechase of Charleston preview: Curtain closes on NSA season

Racing at Steeplechase of Charleston

By Tod Marks

After nearly eight months and 42 meets and race dates in 10 states, the 2022 National Steeplechase season comes to a conclusion on Sunday with the Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry Race Course in Hollywood, S.C. 

In the first full year of “normalcy” following two abbreviated seasons of tumult caused by the Covid-19, the Charleston meet brings down the curtain on a solid bounce-back year in which enthusiastic crowds returned to the races, purses were on the upswing, and a bevy of new owners foreshadowed an even brighter season ahead in 2023.

Unlike other seasons of late, no human titles are on the line in the final meet of the year. The leading jockey and trainer championships were settled after last weekend’s triple header, with Parker Hendriks securing the riding crown and Leslie Young taking the laurels as the NSA’s top conditioner. It is the first championship for both. But there’s still some drama left, as Young seeks to crack $1 million in earnings, a milestone reached by only one trainer in 2022, Keri Brion, who is second in wins. Brion has accumulated $1,073,950 in purses; Young has $975,200. In the battle for leading owner, Bruton Street-US has an $11,000 lead over the Irv Naylor stable. Both have one runner in the in the $30,000 maiden hurdle.

On Sunday, five races, four over jumps worth $100,000, are on tap, with a first race post time of 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The undercard includes a $15,000 maiden claiming hurdle; $30,000 maiden special weights event; $20,000 handicap for horses rated at 110 or less; and training flat contest. 

The feature is the $35,000 Alston Cup, a stakes race at 2 1/16 miles that could help determine the champion three-year-old hurdler. Brion saddles three in the race including Jordan Wycoff’s Clara Belle, who won a maiden claiming hurdle in her NSA debut at Aiken, and Wycoff and Frank Mullins’ Topic Changer, a maiden special weights winner at the same meet. Her biggest threat – and the favorite for the title – is Hudson River Farms, Madaket Stables, and R and K Racing’s The Insider, who took the prestigious Gladstone Stakes at Far Hills last month by more than 17 lengths when owned by European connections and trained by Gordon Elliott.

Young counters with Michael Smith’s Hoffman, who finished second in the Gladstone. Also in the field are Del Rio Racing’s Tiger to Remember, trained by Kate Dalton, and Signal Hill Farm’s Jukebox Juju, trained by Julie Gomena. Both are maidens.

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You can watch the races via live stream from the link on the NSA homepage, The stream, sponsored by Brown Advisory, is offered through Mandolin, which hosted the NSA spring meets. There is a fee to watch the stream.

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