(edited press release)
Good Night Shirt, the 2007 Eclipse award winner as the nation's top steeplechase horse, heads a list of 10 nominated for the $150,000 Iroquois (NSA-I) at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn., on May 10.
In his 2008 debut April 12, Good Night Shirt won the $100,000 Georgia Cup (NSA-I). In 2007, Good Night Shirt earned his first victory of the season in the Iroquois and went on to establish a single-season earnings record for hurdlers of $314,163 while winning three of five starts.
In the Georgia Cup in Atlanta, Good Night Shirt landed two lengths behind Hip Hop after the final jump, but finished strong to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
Good Night Shirt and Hip Hop could meet again at the Iroquois.
Hip Hop has two wins this season at Little Everglades and the Queens Cup. However, he is cross-entered in both the Iroquois and Marcellus Frost, the second race of the day. Trainer John Griggs will determine in which race Hip Hop will start. Entries, with post position order, are to be announced May 8.
Good Night Shirt beat Hip Hop in the Georgia Cup with 16 pounds added to him as a handicap. The Iroquois is a weight-for-age race with no handicaps.
The Australian mare Sweet Shani, owned by Calvin Houghland of Nashville, is an upset possibility. She placed second at Keeneland on April 17. She also placed second at the 2007 Breeders Cup (NSA-I) at Fair Hills to McDynamo, three-time Eclipse winner and NSA career earnings record holder.
Other nominations include Bow Strada, winner of the $25,000 hurdle at the Atlanta Steeplechase; Best Attack, who placed third at Keeneland; Orison, who placed fourth at Keeneland and won the 2007 Carolina Cup; and Mon Villez, a Houghland-owned horse with three consecutive victories in the Noel Laing stakes at Montpelier.
Horses nominated for the 2008 Iroquois Steeplechase (trainers in parentheses):
1. Best Attack (F. Bruce Miller)
2. Bow Strada (F. Bruce Miller)
3. Fra Diavolo (Jonathan Sheppard)
4. Good Night Shirt (Jack Fisher)
5. Hip Hop (John K. Griggs)
6. Kilbride RD (Doug Fout)
7. Mon Villez (F. Bruce Miller)
8. Motel Affair (Thomas H. Voss)
9. Orison (Doug Fout)
10. Sweet Shani (Jonathan Sheppard)
The Iroquois race day purses and bonuses total $415,000, making it the second highest purse in American steeplechasing. Six races are held throughout the day, including the Bright Hour Amateur Hurdle.