Originally created 10/31/04

McCarron continues to rack up wins

AIKEN - Matthew McCarron had difficulty coming up with the words Saturday to describe his season as the leading jockey on the National Steeplechase Association circuit.

"It's surreal," he said.

Then, he tried again. "It's phenomenal."

Finally, he declared it, "an absolute joy."

McCarron added a little icing to his cake Saturday by guiding Erin Go Bragh to a come-from-behind victory in the featured race at the 13th running of the Aiken Fall Steeplechase.

McCarron, in his 13th season, is in position to claim rider of the year honors after adding a pair of wins Saturday. With 22 victories in just over 100 starts, his mounts have won more than $500,000 this season. He was the top rider a year ago, and with the circuit's season coming to a close in November, he should win the title again.

"I've been very fortunate to ride the horses I have and be associated with the people I have," McCarron said.

In the featured race, the $20,000 Regions Bank Holiday Cup, McCarron made the right move at the right time to get the win for Brigadoon Stable.

High Watermark held the early lead in the 22 mile race over national fences, then gave way to Man O'Mystery with just four jumps left. But McCarron was patient and held Erin Go Bragh not far off the lead.

"I actually didn't think there would be any speed," he said. "But there was, and we were happy to sit off that."

On the 12th of 13th fences, McCarron made his move and surged to the lead. Man O'Mystery charged hard at the end, but couldn't catch Erin Go Bragh. High Watermark finished third.

"He got a little cheeky. You always want something to run at," McCarron said. "He had enough momentum to hold off the other horse."

Man O'Mystery, ridden by Danielle Hodsdon, made a valiant run after the last jump.

"Danielle knows my horse," McCarron said. "She knows not to give up."

In five starts on Erin Go Bragh this year, McCarron now has two wins, a second and a fourth.

"He jumped absolutely fabulously," McCarron said.

With ideal conditions, the races drew a large crowd. Paul Sauerborn, an official with the Aiken Steeplechase Association, said it was a testament to the efforts of the staff and community.

"With two football games going on in the state, it's a tribute to the work we're putting into the fall," said Sauerborn, who added that all subscriber and inside rail spots were sold out this year.

Other winners on Saturday's card were Jack's Own Time, Mark The Shark, Storm Touch and Sharp Face. In the day's final event, a flat race, a rare dead heat was declared after a photo finish between Just A Prince and Zikos.

In the first race of the day, early leader Reprizedrullah took a nasty spill after falling over the final jump. But after several minutes and a cool spray of water from an emergency vehicle, the horse got up on his own power and drew the biggest cheer of the day.

McCarron, who took a fall while riding Erin Go Bragh earlier this year, got the win in the first race aboard Jack's Own Time.

It was a sign of things to come.

"It's been a dream come true," said McCarron, who had even more words to describe his performance. "It just leaves me speechless."

13th Aiken Fall Steeplechase

Ford Conger Field

(Winner, owner, trainer, jockey, time)

The Budweiser Cup

Maiden hurdle, $15,000 purse

2 1/4 miles over fences

1. Jack's Own Time, Kinross Farm, Neil Morris, Matthew McCarron, 4:41.2, 2. Sweeps Week, 3. Gleeful King

The Cathedral Aisle

Maiden hurdle, $10,000 purse

2 1/4 miles over fences

1. Mark the Shark, Cohiba Stable, Jack Fisher, Tom Foley, 4:43, 2. City Kid, 3. Father Paul.

The Juac Hollow

Hurdle, $10,000 purse

2 1/4 miles over fences

1. Storm Touch, Calvin Houghland, Jonathan Sheppard, Danielle Hodsdon, 4:24, 2. Floor Play, 3. Precise Direction.

The Regions Bank Holiday Cup

Hurdle, $20,000 purse

2 1/4 miles over fences

1. Erin Go Bragh, Brigadoon Stable, Doug Fout, Matthew McCarron, 4:46.2, 2. Man O'Mystery, 3. High Watermark.

The Cuthbert Ridge

Flat race

1 3/4 miles on the turf

1. Sharp Face, Mrs. F. Eugene Dixon Jr., Jack Fisher, Jack Fisher, 3:15, 2. Henares, 3. Victory is Sweet.

The Calico Creek

Flat race

Seven furlongs on the turf

1. (tie) Just A Prince, Augustin Stables, Sanna Hendriks, Gus Brown; 1. (tie) Zikos, Calvin Houghland, Jennifer Majette, Calvin McCormack, 1:30.1, 3. Move West.

Reach John Boyette at (706) 823-3337 or john.boyette@augustachronicle.com.


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