HOLLYWOOD, S.C.--Leslie Young saddled two winners at the Steeplechase of Charleston, including the winner of the featured 3-year-old hurdle, but, Global Freedom, trained by Ricky Hendriks,won the 3-Year-Old Championship with the most money won throughout the year.
In a remarkable display of sportsmanship, Mikey Mitchell, who had tied for the lead in Rider, Races Won, with Jack Doyle at Callaway Gardens the week before, called all his trainers and told them he wasn't going to Charleston.
He could have ridden any number of favorites at Charleston, but Doyle had suffered a severe injury, a badly broken jaw and ripped open cheek when a horse with a toe grab stepped on him after a fall in the last race there, and Mitchell wasn't going to take the championship when his opponent was sidelined.
What a classy, classy move.
In a thrilling finish, three horses finished across the track in the $25,000, 2 mile Alston Hurdle for 3-year-olds, with Irv Naylor's Must See the Doc (GB), trained by Young, just holding off by a neck Hudson River Farm's Another Try, trained by Jonathan Sheppard, with Global Freedom (GB) another neck back in third.
Owned by George Mahoney's Rosbrian Farm, ridden by Gerard Galligan and trained by Hendriks, Global Freedom, who won the $50,000 Gladstone Stakes at Far Hills, totalled $32,500 in jump purses to win the 3-year-old championship over Must See the Doc, who had $24,000.
"GEORGE bought him and ran him once in Ireland, trained by Gordon Elliot," said Hendriks. "Gordon brought him over here and trained him when he won at Far Hills. Then he came to my barn. He's a lovely horse, nice, kind and quiet, a very straight forward horse. We'll give him a little rest and run him in the spring."
"I got an email that Crowley's horses were being dispersed," said Young. "Must See the Doc had two wins and a second, so we got him privately before the sale. I'm happy to have a winner for the Naylors."
"He's a forward going horse," said Young. "We have to get him to settle a bit."
"He settled better today," said his jockey Brian Linehan. "He's tough. He handled the ground real well."
Due to soft spots from a recent rain, the course was shortened from 2 1/4 miles to 2 miles and one fence was eliminated for the 3-year-old race, the final race of the day.
"It was a very cold day and the ground was soaking wet," said Hendriks. "Cars were getting stuck all over the place."
Hendriks saddled Daniel M. Denefrio's Fightinirishtapit, ridden by Gerard Galligan, to win the co-featured 25,000 Sport of Kings Maiden Hurdle by 2 lengths,
"I tried to keep him handy and close to the pace," said Galligan. "He's a full brother to Mr. Hot Stuff (a multiple graded stakes winner for Jack Fisher). He's a good jumper."
"When we got him he was big and beautiful and very horny," said Hendriks. "Luckily, Daniel let me cut him, and that made him a better horse. He was second in Aiken, and then won here. I'm lucky to have him."
Denefro is a first time owner but a long time steeplechasing fan.
"I'm on top of the world," said Denefrio. "We're elated, both me and my wife."
"I almost died when I saw him in a $6,000 claimer,: said Denefrio, who, as a long time fan, recognized his bloodlines. "I thought, if I don't call Ricky, I'll regret it for the rest of my life."
"Even though I'm a new owner, I've been a steeplechase fan all my life. My father worked for OTB, and we lived near Saratoga. I always went on Wednesdays and Thursdays to watch the jump races. To be an owner is the best feeling. Hopefully we'll have many more times like this."
HEPCAT, owned and trained by Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Galligan, won the $20,000 Ratings Handicap Hurdle by 3 3/4 lengths over another Sheppard trained horse, Eve Ledyard's Go Get the Basil.
In Sheppard's absence, assistant trainer Keri Brion saddled both horses.
"The biggest surprise in how much he just keeps improving," said Brion of Hepcat "He's been a world traveler. He's a tough, hard knocking horse. He's great to have in the barn."
Sheppard is second Leading Trainer behind Jack Fisher, who wasn't at Charleston, in both Races Won, with 21 races won and in Money Won with $712,850 in purses.
"We had a really, really good year," said Brion.
Young saddled Silverton Hill LLC's Bodes Well (Ire), ridden by Linehan, to win the $15,000 Ratings handicap Hurdle by 7 3/4 lengths.
"This was his second win," said Young. "He's very honest, a fun, game little horse. He was modestly rated when I got him, and that's why I got him."
Arch Kingsley saddled Hurricana Farm's Five Carat Cat, ridden by Archie Macauley, to win the $15,000 Maiden Claiming Hurdle by 2 lengths.
"It all set up perfectly for him," said Kingsley. "We had set him up for this race, it was serendipitous to win for local owners. I love the Carolinas. We could be racing here every weekend. It's rooted deep in the traditions of the South."
"He went to the front, and he just kept winging fences, so I just kept going," said Macauley.