Darley Trainees Dominate in 2YO Aiken Trials
Two-year-olds owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley operation dominated two trials in their division at the 72nd annual Aiken Trials March 15 at the Aiken Training Track in South Carolina.
Overseen by trainer Tim Jones in Aiken, Darley horses swept the top three spots in two of four trials for juveniles on the overall card of six trials, which have been an annual rite of spring since 1942.
Darley's Epsilon, a half brother to multiple grade I winner Alpha, took the Von Stade Trophy for 2-year-old maiden colts. The Desert Party —Munnaya colt finished the quarter mile test under Crystal Ryan in :26 4/5. Respective second- and third-place finishers were stablemates Singing Pass (Bernardini —Magnificent Song) and Tradesman (Street Sense —Mari's Thunder).
Darley's Redshirt won the Gaver Trophy for 2-year-old maiden fillies, covering a quarter mile in :24 2/5 with Marcus Ryan aboard. The daughter of Distorted Humor —Perceive led in stablemates Thunder Bay (Distorted Humor—Thunder Kitten) and Affect (Bernardini—True Style).
Also enjoying a winner at the trials was Racing Hall of Fame trainer John Nerud, who at age 101 is the owner of Final Chapter, victor in the W. C. Freeman Memorial Trophy for 2-year-old maidens. The colt by Thunder Gulch —Comedy of Errors, trained by Brad Stauffer and ridden by Gene Tucker, was timed in :23 2/5 for the quarter mile test while defeating an Lansdon Robbins' unnamed filly (Offlee Wild —Flame Trick). Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Sandler (c., Into Mischief —Sunny Senorita) was third.
Dunbarton Stables' Stonebriar won the quarter mile Coward Trophy for 2-year-old maidens in :22 4/5. The Two Punch—Otherwise Perfect colt, ridden by Mikki Fincher for trainer Cary Frommer defeated an unnamed stablemate (c., Fairbanks —Three Queens) owned by J. Price and R. Davis. Lansdon Robbins' Now We Are Free (c., First Samurai —Ice Cool Kitty) was third.
In the day's other trials, Dunbarton Stables, Frommer, and Fincher also won the City of Aiken Trophy for 3-year-olds and older with Ascauga, a Great Notion gelding out of She's Somebody's Hero. Dogwood Stable owns respective second- and third-place finishers Carolinian (g., Yes It's True —Storm Dancer) and Miss Frost (f., Curlin —Allencat).
Colleen Beaumier's Johnny Whitebird won the Iselin Hall of Fame Trophy under Mario Romero. Trained by Justin Nixon, the gelding by Trajectory—Emerald Afternoon was timed in :53 4/5 for 4 1/2 furlongs in the trial for maidens, 3-year-olds and older. Dogwood Stable's Shipwreck Kelly (Bernstein—Joyful Chaos) was second and stablemate Freddie Boy (Giant Gizmo —Bold Corky) was third.
The Aiken Training Track is considered one of the nation's finest training centers. Thirty-nine U.S. champions have trained at the facility.
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