Barely seven months from his last start, nearly three years removed from the biggest win of his racing career and in a venue that feels nothing like the racetrack, Called To Serve was still turning heads and still winning.
Thanksgiving is over and done, leftovers in the fridge, shopping for Christmas underway and time to start padding the bankroll for the last push of 2015. The holiday weekend always packs a plethora of quality stakes action and this year’s feast is no exception, with graded stakes coast to coast and plenty in between.
Dawalan will be the name everyone remembers from Saturday’s Colonial Cup, but the whole day looked like one of the season’s best on paper and lived up to it on the course. Sixty-six horses started in the seven races at Springdale Race Course, with plenty of signature performances beyond the Grade 1 feature.
Ross Geraghty leaned over the left side of Dawalan and summed up the Colonial Cup.
“It’s not too often you worry about reaching the front too soon in a Grade 1,” Geraghty said as Ronnie Raymond led the 5-year-old in circles after the $100,000 stakes.
Bill Ryan, an attorney from Albany, New York, was so impressed with Darby Dan Farm during a trip to Lexington a few years ago that he wrote owner John Phillips a letter.
He didn’t expect a reply, but he got one and a piece of a horse, too.
It’s come down to this . . . the last steeplechase meet of 2015 and the last time the TIHR handicappers take a swing at picking winners – unless we get brave and start doing picks for Aqueduct or Gulfstream Park or Penn National.
The Colonial Cup. It always conjures 1970, when the race was the first $100,000 steeplechase in North America, when men wore overcoats to the races and women put on rain hats, when Marion du Pont Scott played host to the everyone, when the race was a big idea nobody really knew would even make it 1970.
Ah, the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It’s about time to get to the grocery store and fill the cart for the big feast. Or to catch up on that reading you might not get to with the holidays bearing down in earnest. Maybe time to catch some college football rivalry games that actually mean something. Or perhaps time to get to South Carolina for the last jump race meeting of the season and the Colonial Cup at Camden.
Trainer Kate Dalton’s 2015 already includes a career-high five wins, a likely novice hurdle championship and a medication violation she succeeded in appealing. A big finish would pretty much fit right into the script, and she goes for it with Diplomat in Saturday’s Grade 1 Colonial Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.
Like a guy down at the mill or a master mechanic at the local garage, Gustavian shows up every day and does his job. It’s been four years and 15 races, and the 9-year-old gelding has once – once – not finished among the top three over jumps.
Quietly, always quietly, Cyril Murphy trains some of the best steeplechase horses in the country at owner Irv Naylor’s farm near Butler, Md. A former jockey, whose American career included several seasons riding for Tom Voss, Murphy aims Dawalan, Rawnaq and Able Deputy at Saturday’s Grade 1 Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C.
At the Montpelier and Callaway Gardens steeplechase meets Nov. 7 and 8, jockey Darren Nagle won six races. But he singled out one. “The one that didn’t count was probably the most important one,” he said with a laugh after riding out for trainer Graham Motion Friday.