Breeders' Cup Steeplechase winner Quel Senor tries to solidify his championship hopes with a win in Sunday's $100,000 Colonial Cup, the final National Steeplechase Association grade I race of the 2001 season.The 2 3/4-mile, 17-jump test will be part of a five-race card at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C. Quel Senor, owned by Coppertree Farm and trained in Maryland by Tom Voss, can vault into the top spot on the NSA earnings list with the $60,000 first-place check but has to tangle with five other NSA grade I winners. The French-bred has won three of six starts this year, and will be ridden by Cyril Murphy.The challenges come from a variety of sources. Augustin Stable's Lord Zada, second in the Breeders' Cup, returns and gets a switch to champion jockey Gus Brown. An inexperienced steeplechaser with two wins in five starts, Lord Zada has won multiple stakes on the flat.The Colonial Cup poses new challenges for most of the horses in the form of added distance (the Breeders' Cup is 2 5/8 miles) and fences (the Colonial Cup is run over slightly higher fences that feature packed natural brush as opposed to the plastic National Fences used on almost all NSA courses). All but Pinkie Swear, All Gong and Al Skywalker will be making their first starts over the course.Last year's steeplechase champion All Gong gets a new jockey in Robert Massey (subbing for the injured Blythe Miller) while hoping to turn around a winless season. Trained in Pennsylvania by Bruce Miller, All Gong finished second in his first four starts of the year before falling in the Breeders' Cup. All Gong was third in the 2000 Colonial Cup.Jennifer Majette's Al Skywalker is a newcomer to the championship chase, and can make his case with a win Sunday. The speedy California-bred stands, fifth on the 2001 earnings list with $114,881, returned to action with a stakes victory at Montpelier Nov. 3 and also won the NSA grade I Bank of America Carolina Cup at Springdale this spring.Veteran hurdlers Pinkie Swear and Hokan carry upset chances into the race. Both ran well before tiring to finish fourth and sixth, respectively, in the Breeders' Cup. Jockey Chip Miller climbs on Pinkie Swear for the first time while fellow veteran Craig Thornton gets the assignment on Hokan.
The field, in post position order (with jockey): Pinkie Swear (Chip Miller), All Gong (Robert Massey), Al Skywalker (Tom Foley), Lord Zada (Gus Brown), Hokan (Craig Thornton), Feeling So Pretty (Michael Cooney), Plumb Bob (Toby Edwards), Quel Senor (Cyril Murphy), Cold Cat (Thornton on a double call), Walkin N' Memphis (David Bentley), It's A Giggle (J.W. Delozier).