Organizers for the 20th running of the Charleston Cup are expecting not only a standout field of horses but a large number of spectators for Sunday’s steeplechase event at Stono Ferry.
What: Charleston Cup
Where: Stono Ferry. Off S.C. Highway 162 in Hollywood.
When: Sunday (gates open at 9 a.m., paddock call is at noon)
Tickets: General admission $25, $30 day of race
Information: charlestoncup.net or 766-6202
The Charleston Cup is the penultimate event of the National Steeplechase Association schedule with only next week’s Colonial Cup in Camden remaining. Gates open at 9 a.m. and the paddock call will be at noon. Post time for the first of five races is 1 p.m. The combined purse for the five races is $60,000.
“It’s going to be a good year,” said Karl McMillan, race director for the event. “Attendance wise, we’re about 20 percent ahead of where we were this time last year. As far as the horses, they had full fields in Aiken two weeks ago and our race conditions are pretty much the same.”
Arrakis won last year’s Charleston Cup by 5¾ lengths and will compete again this year. Also entered in the $25,000 feature Charleston Cup race are Jamargo, which finished second at the Aiken Fall Races on Oct. 26, and Dugan, fifth at Aiken. The race is 2¼ miles over National Fences.
The event is as much social, with plenty of lavish tailgating taking place, as it is horse racing. McMillan said the attendance record was 16,000 in 1990 and if it’s anything close to that he will be happy. He said there are a lot of first-time parking place holders for this year’s event, which also falls on a weekend when neither Clemson nor South Carolina have college football games. He said the event has reached out to the different alumni associations and infield sales have increased.
The Charleston Cup was begun in 1986 as a marketing tool for the Stono Ferry development and held until 2003 when it was discontinued. It was revived in 2011.