By Tod Marks
Brianbakescookies, who in a productive seven-year career on the flat and over jumps has racked up earnings of more than $200,000, secured his first stakes win on Saturday when he captured the featured $35,000 Queen’s Cup for novice hurdlers at the eponymous meet in Mineral Springs, N.C.
Gill Johnston’s eight-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, trained by Jack Fisher, has been a steady performer throughout his 35-race career with 19 in-the-money finishes, and in the Queen’s Cup, he defeated a solid group of nine competitors, many of whom have won or hit the board in previous stakes.
KMSN Stable’s Sportswear set the pace for much of the 2 ⅜ mile race, and was overtaken two fences from home and, unfortunately fell while putting in a big effort. With Graham Watters aboard, Brianbakescookies stalked in second pace throughout the first two miles, took command coming out of the final turn and drew away handily by 17 lengths. Irv Naylor’s Family Tree rallied for second, while Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer, winner of the 2019 Marcellus Frost novice stakes at the Iroquois Races in Nashville, gained the show spot.
The victory was one of two on the card for Watters, who took the opener, a maiden claiming hurdle, aboard Riverdee Stable’s Gostisbehere, also trained by Jack Fisher.
As big a win as it was for Brianbakescookies it was an equally sensational moment for jockey-turned-trainer Arch Kingsley, who donned the silks in competition for the first time since 2013 and posted a wire-to-wire score on J. David Richardson’s Kilronan. The son of the great Phipps-bred American distance runner on the turf Point of Entry, Kilronan was making his first start over jumps in the second race maiden hurdle. The victory was jockey Kingsley’s 130th on the NSA circuit, where he rode for 20 years beginning in 1993. It was also Kingsley’s 90th score as a trainer, according to Equibase.
In other action on the six-race, rain-soaked program, Kate Dalton’s Down Royal, a daughter of her wonderful winning NSA mare Miss Crown, scored in the ratings handicap with husband, Bernie, in the saddle.
The seven-year-old NY-bred daughter of Alphabet Soup took the lead from DASH Stable’s Prayer Hope with two fences to go and drew off by six.
The victory was Down Royal’s first since November 2017, though she did finish second in stakes competition in 2019, in the Margaret Currey Hendle at Iroquois and the Mrs. Odgen Phipps at Saratoga.
Tennessee horseman Ted Thompson took the allowance race over timber with Motivational, his nine-year-old son of 2010 Travers winner Afleet Express. Motivational, who notched his first victory since 2018, rallied under Tom Garner to outduel Sheila Williams’ Storm Team in a rousing stretch battle. Thompson is no stranger to the winner’s circle in the timber race at Queen’s Cup, having taken the event in 2016 with Class Indian.
In the finale on the flat, it was Hurricana Farm’s Do the Floss, with Gerard Galligan, storming past Carrington Holdings’ Hurtgen Forest, with Elizabeth Scully aboard, to take the training contest.
Full results can be found on the NSA website: nationalsteeplechase.com/results/