CAMDEN — 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 21/8-mile steeplechase in 4:04.2. Fog Island was 11/2 lengths back in second, while Forgotten Man was an additional 53/4-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.”
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 11/2-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.
Orb wins Florida Derby
At Hallandale Beach, Fla., with Orb’s latest victory, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has reason to hope for his first Kentucky Derby winner in a more than 30-year career.
“It’s my dream,” McGaughey said after Orb won the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. “When the 2-year-olds come in, I always try to think, ‘Well, one of these is going to be the one to take us to the Derby where we have an opportunity to win.’ ”
Orb caught Itsmyluckyday inside the eighth pole and drew clear to win the Grade 1 stakes race by 23/4 lengths.
Ridden by John Velazquez, Orb ran 11/8 miles in 1:50.87 and paid $7.80, $3.80 and $3.40 for his fourth straight victory. Orb also won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream in February.
Orb entered the race already owning enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. By finishing second, Itsmyluckyday earned 40 points in the points system to also qualify.
Revolutionary wins in Louisiana
At New Orleans, Revolutionary again started slowly, breaking last in the 14-horse field in the 100th running of the $1 million Grade II Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. But he had the lead by the top of the stretch and held off Mylute to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Palace Malice, owned by Aiken-based Dogwood Stable and the second favorite at 3-to-1 odds, stalked the pace early, but the colt got boxed in along the rail in the stretch and finished seventh.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he and Dogwood president Cot Campbell had considered possibilities before the race and might run Palace Malice in the Bluegrass Stakes on April 13 in an effort to secure enough points to run in the Kentucky Derby.
Revolutionary earned 100 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings and is second behind Orb, the Florida Derby winner.
Mylute earned 40 points, and at 11th place, appears to have spot secured in the derby. The field will be comprised of the top-20 point earners.
Bob Spear contributed to this report