Flashing the brilliance that carried him to last year’s Eclipse Award, Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune set all the pace in Saturday’s $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and drew away to a dominating nine-length victory.
An 11-year-old Royal Anthem gelding bred by Pape and trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Divine Fortune jumped brilliantly over the Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., and brought down the curtain on the 2014 season with a tour de force performance under jockey Darren Nagle.
Sheppard’s Barnstorming finished second, a nose ahead of Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, who had won Grade 1 races in his three previous starts. Divine Fortune ran the Colonial Cup’s 2 3/4 miles in 5:13.40 on firm turf.
Demonstrative took the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award with purse earnings of $362,500, while Divine Fortune was second in the earnings standings with $195,000. In his previous start, Demonstrative had won the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) by 3 3/4 lengths over Divine Fortune, who set the pace until the final fences at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct 18.
The Grand National, which Divine Fortune had won in 2013 on his way to the Eclipse Award, gave an indication that he was coming back into top form. He had won the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in his first start this year, but he was pulled up in his subsequent start, Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), and then fell at the last fence of the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), won by Demonstrative.
Divine Fortune broke sharply when starter Barry Watson dropped the flag and opened an immediate six-length lead. Under Robbie Walsh, Demonstrative settled into third position in company with Sue Sensor’s Carolina Cup winner Top Striker.
Although the margins tightened on the second circuit of the Springdale course, Divine Fortune continued to jump brilliantly for Nagle, who missed the spring season with a broken leg sustained in a training accident. “The way he was jumping on the backside, you couldn’t have asked for anything better.” Pape said.
After taking the last fence in stride, Divine Fortune willingly widened his advantage to the finish line.
Richard Valentine, Demonstrative’s trainer, said he did not believe Demonstrative was compromised by having to remain close to Divine Fortune’s uncontested lead. “Robbie said he wasn’t his usual aggressive self,” the Virginia-base d trainer said. “