Tax Ruling, always prominent, surged through the Springdale Racecourse’s stretch to score a gutty 1 1/4-length victory in the $100,000 Marion DuPont Scott Colonial Cup (NSA-I) Nov. 19 in Camden, S.C.
Tax Ruling’s second grade I victory of the year, following his second straight score in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois in May, thrust Irvin Naylor’s long-running 8-year-old son of Dynaformer prominently into the picture for this year’s Eclipse Award as champion steeplechase horse.
Divine Fortune, who had made a bold move to the lead at the last fence, finished second, and Arcadius took third from Here Comes Art.
Trained by Brianne Slater and ridden by Xavier Aizpuru, Tax Ruling ran the Colonial Cup’s 2 3/4 miles in 5:11.20.
The Colonial Cup’s $60,000 first-place purse raised Tax Ruling’s 2011 earnings to $153,500, second only to Naylor’s Black Jack Blues, a recent import who won both of his U.S. starts easily, including a seven-length victory in the $250,000 Grand National (NSA-I) at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey. Tax Ruling finished eighth in the Grand National.
At the Colonial Cup start, Tax Ruling went to the lead immediately and set the pace with Here Comes Art, ridden by trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. “He’s always been a front-runner,” Aizpuru said. “If he’s not on the lead, he wants to be right there.”
Tax Ruling and Here Comes Art jousted for the lead for more than two miles, with Kingsley’s mount in front as the field turned into the stretch. Divine Fortune and jockey Darren Nagle took the inside route to the last fence and jumped to the lead.
Aizpuru kept pushing Tax Ruling toward the finish line, and they drew clear on the outside inside the final sixteenth. Arcadius, ridden by Brian Crowley, closed stoutly at the end to nip a tiring Here Comes Art for third.