The National Steeplechase Association’s 2018 season has concluded, the wins and purse earnings have been tallied, and now the year’s champions are ready to be crowned.
The sport’s leading competitors will be honored Thursday, Jan. 17, at the annual awards dinner, to be held for a second consecutive year at the Maryland Club in Baltimore in conjunction with the Race Chairmen’s Meeting and an NSA Board of Directors meeting. The gala dinner is presented by the NSA and the Steeplechase Owners and Trainers Association.
The winner of the year’s Eclipse Award as North America’s champion steeplechase horse will be announced a week later, Jan. 24, at the annual Eclipse dinner at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
Topping the owner list by a wide margin was the Rosbrian Farm of Mandy and George Mahoney, which earned $712,050 from 54 starts.
The stable had 14 victories, and among them were two Grade 1 victories—the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois and Belmont Park’s $175,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap—by five-year-old Zanjabeel, who is owned by Rosbrian in partnership with Wendy and Ben Griswold’s Meadow Run Farm.
Trained by Ricky Hendriks, Zanjabeel will be a leading candidate for the Eclipse Award with earnings of $265,000. He also had two second-place finishes, in the $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and the $75,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2).
Leading the year’s earnings table was Jury Duty, who earned $270,000 with his 3 1/4-length victory in Far Hills’ $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), the year’s richest race. Owned by the Sideways Syndicate, Jury Duty was trained to his New Jersey victory by leading Irish horseman Gordon Elliott. As the year’s leading earner, Jury Duty will be awarded the Lonesome Glory Award in January.
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Charleston meet closes door on 2018 season
Though there was no Grade 1, championship-calibre race on the card, the Steeplechase of Charleston in Hollywood, SC, on Nov. 11, did indeed settle some year-end titles. Darren Nagle, aboard Irv Naylor’s Moss Code, took the opener to successfully defend his champion jockey crown by wins, with 17, one more than runner-up Jack Doyle. Ross Geraghty topped all riders in purse earnings. Jack Fisher, who started the season very slowly, came to Charleston with a one-race lead over Ricky Hendriks for training honors, and increased his lead to two with a score by Noble Stables’ Dynaformersrequest (and Willie McCarthy) in the $30,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle. The victory gave Fisher his seventh consecutive training award. But Hendriks wasn't going down without a fight, saddling Rosbrian Farm's Caldbeck (Ross Geraghty)to win the allowance hurdle, which assured the 3-year-old the title of the game's top young jumper. Caldbeck also won The Gladstone Stakes at Far Hills last month, the season's biggest race for 3-year-olds. Another winner at Far Hills, Straylight Racing's Invocation, captured the featured ratings handicap for Billy Santoro and Sean McDermott. Though it didn't count in the standings, trainer Hendriks won the finale, a training flat race, with Rosbrian's Indigo Heart, the first US victory for jockey Katie Young. Catherine French has the photo recap.