Yes, the purse hasn't gone anywhere, well, it's gone up and down and now it's back to the same as it was in 1970. It was the biggest race of the year in 1970 and it was the biggest race of the year - at least in stature - in 2015. Growing up, the Colonial Cup entranced me. When someone asks me which races I won as a jockey, I think of the one I didn't win first. Bet me five bucks and give me five minutes and I'll recite every winner from Top Bid to Dawalan. Ah yes, Dawalan. The 5-year-old French-bred import provided clarity and exclamation to the 2015 season.
Feeling rare pressure at the top of the owner's race, Irv Naylor reloaded this spring/summer, adding the likes of Dawalan, Rawnaq, One Lucky Lady, Jack Frost and Gimme Five. Each contributed to his year-end romp. None of them contributed like Dawalan, who finished third in the Lonesome Glory before sweeping the Grand National and the Colonial Cup. He vaulted from no earnings in American steeplechasing to $255,000 and a title in 58 days.
Voting for anything is a gift, a privilege. As an Eclipse Award voter, I expect, or at least ask, the Colonial Cup to decide my vote.
Dawalan won the Colonial Cup, but steeplechasing won again as well. Nick Ellis, Jeff Teter and the rest of the Carolina Cup Association put on the show, offering a weekend of sport. A golf tournament, a shooting clay tournament, a couple of cocktail parties and a stellar seven-race card, it was the perfect finish. Every sport needs a beginning and an end to its season, our sport starts at Aiken in March and finishes at Camden in November.
Time to shuffle the deck.