William L. Pape’s Divine Fortune, who drew clear from an all-star field in Far Hills’ Grand National (Gr. 1), was crowned as the National Steeplechase Association’s 2013 earnings champion at awards ceremonies on Nov. 23 at Camden, S.C.
Here are the year’s champions on the race course:
LONESOME GLORY CHAMPIONS AWARD
DIVINE FORTUNE ch. g., 10, Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling.
Bred by William L. Pape and Jonathan Sheppard (PA)
Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 7 starts, 2 wins, 1 second, 1 third. $207,000.
DIVINE FORTUNE has been one of the sport’s most consistent performers over the past several years, and he repeatedly was so close to a breakthrough victory. His time finally arrived in 2013, when he danced over the Far Hills course and pulled away late to a rousing victory in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1). At the start of his 10-year-old season, he tuned up well in Stoneybrook’s Sandhills Cup and then ran a strong second in the spring’s richest race, the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), beaten only a neck. He picked up a third in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and saved his finest moment for the Grand National, for which Jonathan Sheppard had him trained to the moment. He glided over the Moorlands Farm course and pulled away from his opposition for a 5 1/2-length victory.
BLUEGRASS SUMMER gr. or ro. g., 5, Purge–Rose of Summer, by El Prado (Ire).
Bred by Graceville Breeding (KY)
Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 6 starts, 3 wins, 0 seconds, 0 thirds, $99,600.
As summer waned, Bluegrass Summer rose in the novice rankings by winning a Saratoga Race Course optional allowance hurdle on Aug. 29. A maiden winner at Stoneybrook in early April, Bluegrass Summer lived up to his Saratoga promise with a game victory in a hard-fought first division of Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, in which he resisted a stretch-long challenge and prevailed by a nose at the finish line. He is one of those horses who excels at tight finishes. His three victories had a total winning margin of a half-length.
LIFE’S ILLUSION FILLY & MARE CHAMPION
KISSER N RUN b. m., 5, Pleasant Tap–Firm Kiss, by Atticus. Bred by Charles Arlington and Mike Mareina (FL).
Owner: Clarke Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 6 starts, 2 wins, 2 seconds, 0 thirds, $95,400.
With an outstanding fall season, KISSER N RUN soared to the Life’s Illusion Filly & Mare championship. She started the year with two second-place finishes, in the Georgia Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase and a heartbreaking nose defeat in the Margaret Currey Henley at the Iroquois Steeplechase. She collected minor purse checks in Saratoga Race Course’s two filly-and-mare stakes but really hit her stride at Far Hills, where she had won the 2012 Peapack Stakes. She repeated in the Peapack, winning by a half-length, and then clinched her championship with a 1 3/4-length win in the Crown Royal Stakes at the Steeplechase at Callaway.
The filly and mare championship trophy is a bronze of 1970s steeplechase star Life’s Illusion, the only female to be honored as champion steeplechaser. On display at the National Steeplechase Museum, the trophy was sculpted by Eve Fout and commissioned by Virginia Valentine, owner of Life’s Illusion.
SCHOODIC b. g., 3, Tiznow–Aunt Henny, by Hennessey. Bred by Edith R. Dixon. (KY)
Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2 starts, 2 wins, $30,000.
SCHOODIC proved rather conclusively by March that he was not destined for a successful career on the flat, so trainer Jack Fisher sent the Tiznow gelding over fences. The change was remarkable. The maiden on the flat won his first career start over fences in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes, and Schoodic scooted away to a facile 1 1/2-length victory. At the Colonial Cup, he burst away from his opposition for a dominant 2 1/2-length victory to secure the year’s three-year-old title.
CHAMPION TIMBER HORSE
FOYLE b. g. 8, Yarrow Brae–Londonderry, by Perfecting. Bred by Mrs. C. Frank Hopkins (MD)
Owner: Merriefield Farm. Trainer: H. Bruce Fenwick. 5 starts, 3 wins, 0 seconds, 0 thirds. $63,750.
FOYLE put together a high-quality fall season to clinch the 2013 timber championship. Winner of the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial by disqualification, Foyle went off as the longest shot on the tote board in the International Gold Cup after a lackluster performance in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase. But he made a strong move under Kieran Norris and won the Virginia race by three-quarters of a length. He clinched the timber title with a game victory in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.