Sonny Via’s Good Night Shirt summoned bottomless stamina and courage late to win the Colonial Cup Steeplechase (NSA-I) at Springdale Race Course in South Carolina Nov. 18 and most likely clinched the 2007 Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser.
Ridden by Willie Dowling, Good Night Shirt took the lead after less than a mile and simply refused to quit running--he turned aside McDynamo’s challenge on the sweeping final turn and then ran away from a gang of four in the stretch to win by 2 1/4 lengths for trainer Jack Fisher.
The winner covered the 2 3/4 miles and 17 fences in 5:19. Three Carat finished second, with Sovereign Duty third. McDynamo, bidding for a fourth win in the race and fourth Eclipse Award, faltered late to finish sixth in the final start of his stellar career.
Strong early, Good Night Shirt found a rhythm once he got in front.
“He went to the front and backed off, which made all the difference,” Dowling said. “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.”
A 6-year-old son of Concern, Good Night Shirt won for the third time in five starts (all grade I) this year. His $314,163 in earnings set a single-season National Steeplechase Association record. The Maryland-bred won two of three meetings with McDynamo--champion in 2003, 2005, and 2006--this year.
McDynamo retires sound with a record $1.3 million in career earnings from 15 wins in 25 lifetime starts over jumps for owner Michael Moran and trainer Sanna Hendriks. The 10-year-old won five consecutive grade I Breeders’ Cup Grand National steeplechase races.
“I’m happy to retire him, and proud to own him,” Moran said. “There were so many years where we felt that degree of confidence because he’s so good, but now as he has gotten older, it’s not that you’re not confident in the horse, but you’re not confident in the decision you’re making.
“It would be greedy to ask him to do more. He has been so good to everybody that I wouldn’t want anything to happen to him.”