Gillian Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff, gutsy winner of the $400,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) last fall, was crowned the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Award winner as 2017’s leading earner at the NSA’s gala awards dinner Thursday evening at the Maryland Club in Baltimore.
The dinner and awards ceremony, sponsored by the NSA and the Steeplechase Owners and Trainers Association, attracted a crowd of more than 140 to toast the champions of the 2017 racing season.
NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri presented the Lonesome Glory Award to the staff members of Jack Fisher’s barn who cared for Mr. Hot Stuff through the 2017 season.
The steeplechase veteran, then 11, capped his long career with a nose victory in Far Hills’ Grand National, the year’s richest race. His earnings totaled $251,000, well clear of Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, the Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) winner who finished third in the Grand National.
Mr. Hot Stuff and All the Way Jose are finalists for the year’s Eclipse Award with Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer, who was undefeated in his two 2017 starts, the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at the Middleburg Spring Races in April and the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in May. The Eclipse Awards will be announced next Thursday at Gulfstream Park.
Reigning as the year’s leading owner was Bruton Street-US, the racing operation of Maryland friends Mike Hankin, Charlie Fenwick, and Charlie Noell. It edged Mrs. Johnston for the title with $438,500 in 2017 earnings.
In addition to Scorpiancer, Bruton Street-US raced novice champion Moscato, winner of Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes and Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes.
For his own account, Fenwick raced timber champion Doc Cebu, who capped a stellar season with his victory in the International Gold Cup.
Amy Taylor Rowe’s Lady Blanco, trained by Leslie Young, won two of her three U.S. starts to reign as the 2017 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion. Bonnie Rye Stable’s Menacing Dennis won the three-year-old championship with his victory in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes.
Fisher claimed his sixth straight title as champion trainer by wins and smashed his own NSA earnings mark with $1,321,150 in 2017 purses. Among his stable members were Mr. Hot Stuff, Scorpiancer, Moscato, and Doc Cebu. His trophy was presented by his father, retired trainer John R.S. Fisher.
Darren Nagle, who had a career year in the saddle, reigned as the NSA’s champion jockey with 19 wins, including the Lonesome Glory win aboard All the Way Jose. Sean McDermott, the regular jockey of Scorpiancer and Moscato, was the leading jockey by purses for the second straight year.
Two other jockey titles ended in ties. Keri Brion and Keith Dalton tied for the apprentice jockey championship with three wins apiece. Mark Beecher and Hadden Frost were knotted for the amateur title with seven wins each.
Irvin S. Naylor claimed a record ninth title as the champion timber owner.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot annually presents the Woodville Award to honor the sport’s hard-working caretakers. Receiving this year’s Woodville Award were Michael Benson, from the Amy Taylor Rowe stable, and Sara Miller, from trainer Willie Dowling’s yard.