Alajma wins Carolina Cup steeplechaseAP , Associated Press
Mar. 30, 2013 6:45 PM ET
CAMDEN, S.C. (AP) — Alajmal surged at the end, pulling away in the final yards to win the Carolina Cup steeplechase Saturday.
The 5-year-old gelding, ridden by Ross Geraghty, won the 2 1/8-mile steeplechase in 4:04.2. Fog Island was 1 ½ lengths back in second, while Forgotten Man was an additional 5 3/4-lengths back in third.
After starting mid-pack in the field of seven starters, Geraghty asked Alajmal to go to the front at the 10th of 11 fences as the pair tracked down Fog Island. From there, the gelding kicked on over the final sixteenth of a mile and went on for his first win since carrying the Irish-born Geraghty to a victory in a $30,000 allowance chase at Saratoga last August.
"I asked him for a big jump at the second-to-last (fence) and went straight to the last and he jumped big again," Geraghty said. "It was really a hand ride after the last."
Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot watched from a grandstand box and didn't like what she was seeing in the early stages of the race.
"I was very disappointed at the start," said Elliot, who sent out her first Carolina Cup winner since saddling Master McGrath in 1998. "I thought this was only 2 1/8-miles, but it didn't take very long for them to all close up."
Elliot closed the day of racing by saddling the Hawkins-owned The Grey Express, winner of the second division of The Kershaw, a 1 1/2-mile flat race. Camden's Bernie Dalton was on the winner.
Elliot's Hall of Fame colleague and former boss, Jonathan Sheppard, won two of the four steeplechase races on the card. Sheppard sent out Bill Pape's Powerofone, which won the $25,000 Camden Plate Hurdle with Darren Nagle aboard for the winning ride. One race later, rider and trainer joined forces as Nationbuilder took the $20,000 C.P. and Edith Wills DuBose Cup, a three-mile chase over the timber course.
The day's final steeplechase, the $15,000 Sport of Queens Hurdle for fillies and mares was won by John K. Griggs' G G Gal, trained by Camden's Dave Washer and ridden by Dalton.