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Mr Hot Stuff (left) rallies past Modem and All the Way Jose (r) at the last to win the Grand National. TOD MARKS PHOTO

In a thrilling, heart-pounding finish, Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff came back in the last strides to nip Robert Kinsley’s Modem in the Far Hills Races’ $400,000 Grand National by a nose on Saturday. Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose finished third, another nose back in America’s richest steeplechase race.

A competitor in the 2009 Triple Crown races, Mr. Hot Stuff was the oldest runner in a field of seven in the 2 5/8-mile Grand National, a race that attracted three overseas competitors, all of whom ran somewhat disappointing races over Far Hills’ lush, firm turf course.

On an afternoon that recalled late summer more than mid-autumn, Mr. Hot Stuff’s performance recalled earlier glory days. He won the 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and appeared to be on the cusp of duplicating his flat form, in which he earned a spot in the Kentucky Derby (Gr. 1) starting gate with a third-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby (Gr. 1).

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CHASING IN FOCUS

Simply ‘Grand’: Mr Hot Stuff prevails in $400,00 Grand National at Far Hills

Gill Johnston's battle-tested 11-year-old turned back the clock to score an upset victory over Bob Kinsley's Modem and Rodman Moorhead's All The Way Jose in a three-way duel in which the finishers were each noses apart. Mr Hot Stuff, who contested the 2009 Triple Crown, hadn't won a race in 2 1/2 years. His only other Grade 1 came in the 2013 AP Smithwick at Saratoga. Trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by European rider Danny Mullins, Mr Hot Stuff rallied at the last to collar the leaders and claim victory in the richest hurdle race in US racing history. Photographer Tod Marks has the recap of the Grand National and the rest of the star-studded 7-race card.

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