Younger, faster, stronger horse Good Night Shirt turned away steeplechase legend McDynamo and powered away late to win the Grade 1 Colonial Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., on Sunday.
Owned by Sonny Via and trained by Jack Fisher, Good Night Shirt set a single-season steeplechase earnings record with $314,163 and likely clinched the Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser. Ridden by Willie Dowling, Good Night Shirt took over the early lead from McDynamo, then found a rhythm despite a handful of shaky fences in the $150,000 race. A Maryland-bred, Good Night Shirt scored by 2 1/4 lengths over Three Carat with Sovereign Duty third in 5:19 for the 2 3/4 miles and 17 fences. McDynamo faltered late to finish sixth, and was retired after the race.
Unsettled while trying to rate early, Good Night Shirt galloped to the front after about a mile and relaxed. McDynamo, ridden by Jody Petty, was content to draft in second, and kept the leader honest as the field sped down the sweeping backstretch. McDynamo tested Good Night Shirt leaving the backside, but couldn't match the winner's energy over the final half-mile.
"He went to the front and backed off, which made all the difference," said Dowling. "He took a couple of chances at fences, but they didn't seem to bother him. Turning for home, he still had some left. That's a good feeling because they were right there. What a great horse. He just galloped all the way to the line."
Good Night Shirt won 3 of 5 starts – all in Grade 1 stakes – this year and won 2 of 3 meetings with McDynamo. Bred by Dr. and Mrs. Tom Bowman, the son of Concern improved to 6 for 16 over jumps and increased his steeplechase earnings to $448,973. He made his jump debut in 2005 after winning twice on the flat.
McDynamo retires with a record $1.3 million in earnings and Eclipse Awards in 2003, 2005, and 2006.
* The Colonial Cup closes the 2007 steeplechase season with individual championships going to jockey Xavier Aizpuru (22 wins) and trainer Jack Fisher (24).