Bethany Baumgardner, an amateur steeplechase jockey and member of the Amateur Riders Club of America (ARCA), has written a letter of appreciation to the many supporters who made possible her participation in the races sponsored by Fegentri, the international organization of amateur riders. Baumgardner won the final race of the female series on Dec. 3
Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, Gillian Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff, and Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer are the three finalists for the 2017 Eclipse Award as champion steeplechase horse.
The three Grade 1 winners were the top vote-getters in championship voting by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Daily Racing Form, and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. The winner of the steeplechase category, other Thoroughbred racing divisions, and Horse of the Year will be announced Thursday, Jan. 25, at the 47th annual Eclipse Awards dinner and awards ceremony at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Scorpiancer dominated the spring season with victories in the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) at the Middleburg Spring meet in April and the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at Nashville in May. Trained by Jack Fisher, Irish-bred Scorpiancer was rated as the 158-pound highweight in the 2017 Theoretical Handicap prepared by Bill Gallo Jr., the National Steeplechase Association’s director of racing.
Mr. Hot Stuff will receive the NSA’s Lonesome Glory Award as the year’s leading earner after his victory in the $400,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at the Far Hills Races in October. The award will be presented at the NSA’s annual awards dinner on Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Maryland Club in Baltimore.
The veteran, also trained by Fisher, had finished third to Scorpiancer in the Temple Gwathmey at the Middleburg Spring Races.
All the Way Jose, bred and trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, secured his first Grade 1 victory in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap in September, and he finished third in the Grand National, two noses behind Mr. Hot Stuff.
Charles T. Colgan, longtime executive vice president of the National Steeplechase Association, died Jan. 2 after a brief illness, surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren.
He joined the organization in 1971, oversaw strong growth in his tenure as executive secretary and executive vice president, and carried out the move from New York to Fair Hill, Md., in 1989. He retired at the end of 2000.
Born in 1940, he was the second of two children born to Charles P. Colgan and Sabina Kelly Colgan, first-generation Irish-Americans. He grew up in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan, and his family was part of a storied neighborhood and period in New York history.
As the son of a member of the Treasurers and Ticket Sellers Union, he had access to a huge array of New York sports and theater events. From the earliest days, he had a deep love of sports and horse racing, cultivated by his experiences at the old Madison Square Garden and New York race tracks, including summer visits with his parents to Saratoga Race Course. He was especially devoted to the Rangers hockey team of his youth.
Charlie was working as a white cap at Belmont Park race track when he first met Audrey Walsh, his future wife, then an exercise rider for her father, Racing Hall of Fame trainer Michael G. “Mickey” Walsh. They married in 1963, raised three children, and celebrated 54 anniversaries together. Their daughter Kelly Colgan and her husband, Peter McDermott, continue the family tradition of professional horse training.
Charlie graduated from Saint Bonaventure University in 1962, served as a captain in the Army for two years, graduated from UNC Chapel Hill Law School in 1969, and practiced law in Charlotte, N.C., before he discovered a way to link his work life to sports. Charlie joined the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association in 1971, and became the executive secretary and racing secretary-handicapper in 1976. He was proud of strengthening the rules and fairness of the sport over his 30 years there.
Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer made only two starts in 2017, but they were sufficiently impressive to earn him the 158-pound highweight in the National Steeplechase Association Theoretical Handicap for 2017.
The Irish-bred eight-year-old trained by Jack Fisher won Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) and the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), the latter by 16 lengths.
Next on the 2017 list at 148 pounds were the top three finishers in Far Hills’ Grand National (Gr. 1): winner Mr. Hot Stuff, second-place Modem, and third-place All the Way Jose, who were noses apart at the finish. Novice champion Moscato was rated at 146 pounds.
NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo Jr., who created the Theoretical in 1992, evaluated all 29 horses who placed in NSA open and novice stakes races in 2017. Scorpiancer’s rating was four pounds below the 162-pound average of annual highweights. Lonesome Glory set the standard with a 170-pound highweight in 1995, and fellow Racing Hall of Fame members McDynamo and Good Night Shirt were rated at 168.
Make your reservations now for the annual Steeplechase Awards Dinner and Dance, sponsored by the National Steeplechase Association and the Steeplechase Owners and Trainers Association, on Thursday, Jan. 18 at the Maryland Club in Baltimore.
The gala event will honor the champions of 2017, and the principal prize, the Lonesome Glory Award, will be presented to Grand National (Gr. 1) winner Mr. Hot Stuff as the year’s top earner.
Cocktails will be served at 6:30 p.m. at the Maryland Club, located at 1 East Eager St., and the awards dinner will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Live music will be provided by The Release.
The Awards Dinner and Dance will cap a full day of steeplechase activity at the Maryland Club. The NSA’s Race Chairmen’s meeting will begin at 10 a.m. that day. The NSA Board of Directors will meet the following morning at the Maryland Club.
Tickets for the Awards Dinner and Dance are $150 per person, and reservations must be made by Monday, Jan. 8. To make reservations and for further information, please contact NSA Racing Operations Coordinator Courtney Reid at email@example.com.
by Donald Yovanovich
The Amateur Riders Club of America made history on Sunday when Bethany Baumgardner became the first American lady rider ever to win the Champ de Mars, the finale of the Longines Fegentri Ladies Championship in Mauritius.
In an invitational race limited to the top eight riders in the season-long competition, Bethany rode Social Network to a gate-to-wire victory in the 1,500-meter turf race.
Bethany has competed in about 60% of the offered races in the series and during most of the summer was ranked second. With a short hiatus in September and October, she fell to sixth in the standings, but a third-place finish aboard Bonnie Acclamation at Pisa on Nov. 26 moved her into the fifth spot.
Her victory in Mauritius placed her fourth in the world, with only 17 points separating the second-, third-, and fourth-place ladies. The series leader, Sara Vemeersch representing Belgium, ran away with the competition, winning by a huge margin. Bethany had two wins and seven seconds during the series, and she was thrilled by the finale victory. “It was an incredible experience,” she said.
We should also mention that the ARCA Fegentri World Cup Team finished the year by placing second to Norway. Special thanks to the riders, Erika Taylor, Amelia McGuirk, Brittany Trimble, Teresa Croce, and Mark Galligan. All the riders, including Bethany, are National Steeplechase Association-licensed jockeys.