AIKEN, S.C.--After just being nosed out of both the Trainer, Races Won and Money Won titles last year by Jack Fisher, Ricky Hendriks of Unionville, Pa., started off the sanctioned steeplechase season at Aiken by winning three races and finishing second in two.
Of this giving him a great head start on taking either one or both of the Trainer titles from Fisher, Hendriks said, "I sure hope so. We're going to give it our best shot. It was a very exciting day."
Hendriks saddled both the first and second place finishers in the featured $30,000 Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle, winning with his Morning Star Farm's Indigo Heart, ridden by Jack Doyle, who scored by 4 1/2 lengths over Rosbrian Farm's Barhanpour (Fr), ridden by Ross Geraghty.
"That was quite a surprise," said Hendriks. "We got lucky. A couple scratched late, and we were just in the right place at the right time."
"I think Ricky just stuck him in there because he was ready to go," said Doyle.
"I bought him from Arch Kingsley for George Mahoney (owner of Rosbrian Farm)," said Hendriks. "We bought him for the race at Shawan Downs, which he won nicely. But then we didn't know what to do with him, and George said, `Do you want him," and I said sure, so I bought him."
"I claimed Barhanpour off Jack Fisher,: said Hendriks. "This was his third race for us. He's had a win, a fourth and now a second."
DURANGO DAN, ridden by Geraghty and owned by Ricky's mother Wendy, was second by 3 1/4 lengths to Soluble (Ger), owned and trained by Kathy Neilson and ridden by Sean McDermott, in the $30,000 Maiden Hurdle.
"Durango Dan is a new horse," said Hendriks. "My mother claimed him off the flat. This was his first start over fences. We were very please with him. He's been training very well."
"I was happy with the horse," said McDermott of Soluble's win. "He's bred in the purple. He's by Galileo, who's not known for siring jump horses. "
"I was happy after the first and second hurdle with the was my horse was jumping," said McDermott. "Ross was on a horse that was on his first time over fences."
Neilson also saddle Irvin Naylor's Change of View, ridden by McDermott, to win the $20,000 Handicap Hurdle.
Hendriks had two winners on the flat, races that don't count towards year-end Trainers awards.
Both Capo del Capi, winner of the first Training Flat, and Argentic (Fr), winner of the second Training Flat, are owned by Debra E. Kachel and were ridden by Geraghty.
"Capo del Capi will run over fences in a couple of weeks," said Hendriks. "This was a little prep for him He ran a big race."
Capo del Capi led by 30 or 40 lengths at times but just held on to win by a length.
"We just bought Argentic a couple of weeks ago from Graham Motion," said Hendriks. "Ross and Eve (Ledyard, Ricky's partner and assistant trainer) will be stationed in Camden for a couple of weeks, so he'll stay with them and learn to jump there."