The season's first grade I steeplecase race highlights the March 31st racing card in Camden, S.C. In addition to the grade I race, the card also features five other races worth a combined $200,000 in purses. Gates open early to accommodate the crowd, annually the largest on the NSA schedule, and the races start at 1:30 p.m.
The $100,000 Bank of America Carolina Cup, a 2 1/4-mile affair run under allowance conditions. The race attracted a field of seven including Grade I winners Campanile and Romantic. The latter, owned by Timber Bay Farm and trained by Jonathan Sheppard won the Colonial Cup over the course last fall and carries top weight of 154 pounds in his 2001 debut.
Campanile won the 2000 Carolina Cup, but was disqualified for interference. Campanile has a bigger target on his agenda, however, with a date in Japan's $1.4 million Nakayama Grand Jump April 14. The Carolina Cup will be his final prep for the world's richest steeplechase.
The Carolina Cup field (with jockeys) in post position order: Turkish Corner (Matt McCarron), Al Skywalker (Tom Foley), Canta Ke Brave (Robert Massey), Romantic (Arch Kingsley), Campanile (Blythe Miller), Assurance (Richard Boucher) and Addinson (Gus Brown).
Last year's NSA novice champion Pompeyo competes on the undercard, as one of seven entered in the $50,000 Woodward-Kirkover Cup (NSA-III). The race is a key prep for the Steeplechase Triple Crown, which begins May 3 at Churchill Downs. In addition to 2000 Eclipse Award finalist Pompeyo the field includes 2001 winners P.C. Plod and War Talk and three-time winner Flasher.