Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune went to the lead immediately in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), set a comfortable pace without pressure, and drew away through the stretch to a nine-length victory under leading jockey Darren Nagle at the Far Hills Races on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Gustavian, who had finished eight lengths ahead of Divine Fortune in winning Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 19, finished second, three lengths ahead of Demonstrative in third. Pierrot Lunaire, last year’s Grand National winner, finished fourth in a star-packed field of 11.
Trained by Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Divine Fortune earned the first Grade 1 victory of his career. The 10-year-old Royal Anthem gelding, co-bred by Pape and Sheppard, ran the Grand National’s 2 5/8 miles in 5:15 on firm turf.
Second in last year’s Grand National and third in the Eclipse Award voting behind Pierrot Lunaire and Demonstrative, Divine Fortune raised some questions after the seventh-place finish in the Lonesome Glory. But Sheppard said a foot infection surfaced after that race, and Divine Fortune was at his feisty best for the Grand National.
Although speed had not been holding up over the New Jersey racecourse, Sheppard had confidence in Divine Fortune’s ability and hoped that he would be on the lead. Divine Fortune broke sharply and was under no pressure from Nagle as he galloped over the lush course and jumped sharply before drawing away easily through the final furlong.
The $150,000 first-place purse placed Divine Fortune in the lead for the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year’s leading earner. His closest competitor is Magalen O. Bryant’s Gustavian, who is trained by Leslie Young and ridden by her husband, three-time champion jockey Paddy Young.
Sheppard said he planned to send Divine Fortune into the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup, the year’s concluding Grade 1 race in Camden, S.C., on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Foyle pulls a big upset in International Gold Cup
Merriefield Farm’s Foyle defied his 11.60-1 betting odds and won the $50,000 International Gold Cup by one length at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va., on Saturday, Oct. 19. Kieran Norris was in the saddle for trainer Bruce Fenwick.
Straight to It, the 3.40-1 second favorite owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, finished second, and Irv Naylor’s 2.40-1 favorite Tax Ruling took third. Foyle, who had been beaten more than 40 lengths by Tax Ruling in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase on Sept. 28, bounced back with a stellar performance in the fall season’s richest timber race.
Foyle, by far the longest price in a field of seven, trailed leader Straight to It by a half-length at the final fence and made a strong outside move in the stretch to gain his first win since he was placed first in a timber allowance race at the Virginia Gold Cup meet on the same Great Meadow course on May 4. He won his maiden victory at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last year. He ran the International Gold Cup’s 3 1/2 miles in 7:21.60 on turf rated as good.
Bluegrass Summer holds on to win first Foxbrook division
Jockey Bernie Dalton collected his second victory on the Far Hills card when Bill Pape’s Bluegrass Summer fought off a game Staying On to win the first division of the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices.
Pape’s Grand Tier closed strongly to take third place, 1 1/4 lengths behind Michael Moran’s Staying On and three-quarters of a length ahead of Congashene. Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, Bluegrass Summer ran the Foxbrook’s 2 1/2 miles in 5:10 flat on firm turf.
Riverdee Stable’s Apse set a slow early pace and went off course on the final run down the backstretch as the pace picked up. Bluegrass Summer, always in a stalking position, assumed the lead and was challenged by Staying On nearing the final fence. They jumped the obstacle together and fought to the finish line, with the gray or roan Purge gelding prevailing in a the head bob.
The Foxbrook was Bluegrass Summer’s second consecutive win over fences. He had won a Saratoga Race Course optional allowance on Aug. 29 with Dalton in the saddle.
Sacred Soul explodes to victory in second Foxbrook division
Leading owner Irvin S. Naylor’s Sacred Soul exploded to the lead on Far Hills’ final turn and overcame a stumble at the final fence to win as he pleased in the second division of the Foxbrook. Gil Johnston’s Alburj, the early leader, came back late to finish second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Bill Pape’s Powerofone.
Sacred Soul and Powerofone tracked the pace of Alburj in the early going, and Darren Nagle put Powerofone on the lead on the final run down Far Hills’ backstretch. Sacred Soul and jockey Ross Geraghty drew even with Powerofone entering the final bend and quickly established a dominant lead.
Even with a clumsy landing after the final fence, Sacred Soul was far in front and won in a canter. The six-year-old Perfect Soul gelding ran the Foxbrook’s 2 1/2 miles in 4:41 and provided the first major victory to Cyril Murphy, who took over the training duties after Sacred Soul finished second in Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 15.
Kisser N Run takes second straight Peapack
Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run made a powerful late run through the Far Hills stretch and overtook Opera Heroine to score her second straight victory in the $75,000 Peapack Stakes for fillies and mares.
Ridden by Robbie Walsh, Kisser N Run finished a half-length ahead of Arcadia Stable’s Opera Heroine, who in turn was two lengths clear of The Grey Express. Arcadia’s Take Her Tothe Top finished fourth in a field of 12.
Trained by Richard Valentine, Kisser N Run ran the Peapack’s 2 1/8 miles in 3:55.20 on firm turf at Moorland Farms.
Kingfisher Farm’s Maya Charli, who like Opera Heroine and Take Her Tothe Top is trained by Jack Fisher, went out immediately at the start and opened a gaping early lead. She remained in front until midway down the backstretch the last time, when Gregory Hawkins’ The Grey Express took the lead.
Entering the homestretch, Opera Heroine moved to the front under Sean Flanagan and jumped the final fence with a clear path to the finish line. But Kisser N Run unbuckled a big move in the final furlong and gained her first win since last year’s Peapack triumph.
Canaveral takes off to Harry E. Harris win
Gregory Hawkins’ Canaveral took command late on the final run down Far Hills’ backstretch, jumped the final fence in stride, and held off Boxbourne for a one-length victory in the $25,000 Harry E. Harris, a Sport of Kings maiden hurdle.
Gil Johnston’s Boxbourne gave trainer Jack Fisher and jockey Sea Flanagan their second straight second-place finish. Boxbourne surged past Armata Stable’s Wildcatter for the place spot. Wildcatter finished three-quarters of a length behind Wildcatter and 5 1/2 lengths clear of Bill Pape’s Tropic Sea, the fourth finisher.
Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Janet Elliot and ridden by Bernie Dalton, Canaveral ran the Harry E. Harris’ 2 1/8 miles in 4:02.60 on firm turf.
Canaveral went to the winner’s circle in his second start over fences. He had finished fourth in a Shawan Downs maiden race on Sept. 28.
Schoodic wins Gladstone with late move
Edith R. Dixon’s Schoodic closed powerfully through the final furlong to overhaul Cry Vengeance and win the $25,000 Gladstone Stakes for three-year-olds by 1 1/2 lengths. Wendy Hendriks’ Cry Vengeance finished a half-length ahead of Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Class Cherokee, who was making his first career start.
Schoodic, a Tiznow gelding bred by his owner, ran the Gladstone’s 2 1/8 miles in 4:16.40. Sean Flanagan rode Schoodic for trainer Jack Fisher.
Chess Board wires New Jersey Hunt Cup
Owner Naylor collected his second win of the day when Chess Board took the lead early in the $25,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup and held off Here Comes Badness for a three-quarter-length victory. Seer finished third. Willie McCarthy rode Chess Board, who ran the timber allowance’s 3 1/4 miles in 7:19.60.