Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, Magalen O. Bryant’s Gustavian, and owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s Italian Wedding (in alphabetical order) were announced Wednesday as the finalists for the Eclipse Award as 2013 champion steeplechase horse. The Eclipse winners will be announced Saturday, Jan. 18, at the annual awards dinner at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.
Divine Fortune, winner of the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year’s leading earner, won the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., in a career-best performance on Oct. 19 and also finished second in the spring’s richest race, the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 11. Like Italian Wedding, he is trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Sheppard.
Virginia horsewoman Bryant purchased Gustavian privately immediately before he won the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park in September. Gustavian subsequently finished second to Divine Fortune in the Grand National.
Italian Wedding returned sharply from a long layoff and finished second in Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) before winning Saratoga’s premier steeplechase stakes race, the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22.