CAMDEN, S.C. -- Balance the Budget jumped out early and went on to a more than six lengths victory Saturday in the Colonial Cup, the first Grade 1 race of the National Steeplechase Association season.
Balance the Budget of Stonelea's Stable move out strongly and opened a 20-length lead on the 2 3/8ths mile Springdale Racecourse. Zanjabeel closed ground to finish second, but never seriously threatened Balance the Budget for first by 6 1-4-lengths.
Schoodic was third and Hinterland fourth in the field of six.
Balance the Budget finished the race in a time of 4:30 flat on a fast, firm course.
The $150,000 Colonial Cup had been traditionally run later in the season on its own card with the Carolina Cup event featured in the spring. Organizers, however, chose to combine the fall races with the spring races, which can attract up to 60,000 fans to watch steeplechase racing.
The $75,000 Carolina Cup was run right before the Colonial Cup with Personal Start taking the 2 1/8th mile race. No Wunder was second and New Member third.
In the Colonial Cup race, jockey Mark Watts quickly moved Balance the Budget out front. Watts gave his horse a brief rest before the final turn before finishing strongly. It was Balance the Budget's sixth win for Virginia-based trainer Julie Gomena.
Balance the Budget won $90,000. The horse also won the 2015 Carolina Cup Hurdle Stakes for horses in their first season of racing over fences. It was his second consecutive graded win after ending 2017 with a victory in the International Gold Cup's David L. "Zeke" Ferguson Memorial, a Grade 2 event in Virginia.