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Jennifer S. Pitts’ Bau Bai Gold will be the mare to catch when she faces off against male competitors in the $25,000 Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle at the 64th annual Stoneybrook Steeplechase at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C., on Saturday, April 4.

Opening ceremonies begin at noon followed by the famous Hat Contest, Stick Horse Races, and Tailgating Competition among the many other activities at this favorite springtime event. Stoneybrook tickets may still be purchased online at ETIX.com or at the Gate on race day. The five-race program kicks off at 1:30; the Sandhills Cup $25,000 purse race is the final race where Bau Bai Gold will compete against the field of six male competitors.

Trained by Jazz Napravnik, Bau Bai Gold, the five-year-old Sightseeing mare started the new National Steeplechase Association with an impressive victory in the Charles S. Bird optional allowance hurdle at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase. Ridden by Ross Geraghty, she led throughout the two-mile race and drew clear to a 6 1/2-length victory despite bobbling upon landing at the last fence. Geraghty will again be in the saddle as Bau Bai Gold looks to stretch out to the Sandhills Cup’s 2 3/8-mile distance.

The Aiken Spring Steeplechase in South Carolina also served as the season opener for several Sandhills Cup competitors. Finishing behind Bau Bai Gold in the Bird was Marq Your Bible, who was second. Champion jockey Willie McCarthy again will be aboard Perfect Peace Racing Stable’s Marq Your Bible.

Lilith Boucher, who trains Marq Your Bible, also will saddle William E. Riddle Jr.’s Absolum, who finished third in Aiken Spring’s $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3). He will carry a $20,000 claiming price.

Elizabeth P. Carey’s Mr. Lickety won Aiken Spring’s Ford D. Conger starter allowance hurdle for trainer William B. Cocks, and jockey Bernie Dalton has a return call.
Not to be forgotten is Betsy Mead’s veteran hurdler Forgotten Man, who tuned up for the Sandhills Cup with a fifth-place finish in a Carolina Cup training flat race on March 28. Second in last year’s Sandhills Cup, homebred Forgotten Man will have apprentice jockey Gerard Galligan in the saddle for trainer Doug Fout.
Tickets at Stoneybrooksteeplechase.com, ETIX.com or at the Gate on Saturday at the Carolina Horse Park, Raeford.  Tickets to the Frontstretch Fest bourbon, beer and bites party also available at ETIX.com.

Further reading:  Racing enthusiasts may enjoy Jockey, Ross Geraghty’s Blog at Gojumpracing.org.
 
FIELD OF COMPETITORS FOR SANDHILLS CUP:
Here is the field for the $25,000 Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle in post-position order:

Absolum. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Fantasticat—Zenon, by Hawkster. Owner: William E. Riddle. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Jockey: Open. 2015 record: 1-0-0-1, $5,000. 2014 record: 3-1-0-0, $12,000. Finished third in Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) to open 2015 season. Won Middleburg Spring optional allowance hurdle last April before losing rider in Radnor's National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) and falling in Parx allowance hurdle. Won 2013 Middleburg Spring maiden claimer by 12 lengths before second in Radnor’s Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle and third in a Parx optional allowance.

Bau Bai Gold. 2010 dk. b. or br. m., Sightseeing—Lynx of Gold, by Forest Wildcat. Owner: Jennifer H. Pitts. Trainer: Jazz Napravnik. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $15,000. Won the Charles S. Bird optional allowance hurdle at Aiken Spring to open 2015 season. In first start over fences, won a 2014 Foxfield Fall maiden hurdle for fillies and mares by 13 1/4 lengths and then finished fifth in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes.
 
Forgotten Man. 2008 ch. g., Bowman’s Band—Hark the Sound (GB), by Robellino. Owner: Betsy Mead. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 5-0-1-1, $10,450. Finished fifth in Virginia Fall's W. Gary Baker Memorial, was pulled up in the International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), and closed 2014 season with a third in a Colonial Cup allowance hurdle. Homebred finished second in Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle at Stoneybrook Steeplechase, then was fifth in the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase on April 26. Tuned for this year’s Sandhills Cup with a fifth in a flat training start at Carolina Cup.

Saint Jerome (Ire). 2010 b. g., Jeremy—Eminence Gift, by Cadeaux Genereux. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2015 record: No starts. 2014 NSA record: 3-0-1-0, $4,540. Accomplished young hurdler in England finished second in a Montpelier optional allowance hurdle before fifth in Colonial Cup allowance hurdle. Formerly trained by Jamie Osborne, had two 2014 wins in novice hurdles at Warwick and Ludlow.

Mr. Lickety. Owner: Elizabeth Carey. Trainer: William B. Cocks. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. 2014 record: 6-1-1-1, $17,700. Kicked off the 2015 season with a victory in an Aiken Spring starter allowance hurdle. Won his maiden victory at 2014 Aiken Spring and was second in a Stoneybrook claiming hurdle.
 
Marq Your Bible. 2009 dk. B. or br. g., Marquetry—Red Devilette, by Oh Say. Owner: Perfect Peace Racing. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2015 record: 1-0-1-0, $4,500. 2014 record: 9-2-2-2, $44,475. Finished second in Aiken Spring’s Charles S. Bird optional allowance hurdle to open 2015 season. Virginia-bred won a state-bred allowance on the flat at the International Gold Cup and then was third in the Crown Royal allowance hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway.