Breeder: Richard Fox, Nathan Fox & Richard Kaster (Ky.)
Trainer: Sanna N. Hendriks
Notable Accomplishments: Eclipse Award-winning Steeplechaser 2003, 2005-06, five-time winner (2003-2007) of the Breeders' Cup Grand National Steeplechase (NSA-I), three-time Colonial Cup (NSA-I) winner, leading North American steeplechase earner.
Owner Michael Moran: "I didn't really buy him for a jumper; I bought him for a flat horse. John Kimmel had a full brother in training at the time and a friend of mine in Kentucky pointed this horse out to me. I bought him at the Keeneland yearling sale for $82,000 in September of 1998. I don't buy horses specifically to be jumpers but it's nice if they have that capability at the end of the day. After I bought him, a man from Vancouver named Steve McDonald said, 'I really liked that horse, would you be interested in selling half to me?' I said, 'Sure, why not?' So we became partners.
"We got him home and he had serious claustrophobia problems. He ran around the stall and you had to tie him up. He was fine in the paddocks and out on the track, but in a confined space he was not very happy. He was a very awkward youngster and in the winter of his 2, coming 3-year-old year we sent him down to Keeneland to get him through all the baby stuff, and he also spent some time in Camden.
"In May of his 3-year-old year, we ran him at Pimlico first time out and he finished last. He won going 1 1/2 miles at Pimlico in his next start; he had ability on the flat, but he had such a fear of the starting gate that he was like a convict escaping from prison when they got out of there.
"At the end of his 3-year-old year he had an ankle chip removed. We brought him back and took him to Colonial, where he won an 'a other than' but he was still having serious gate issues. We entered him to run at Delaware Park, where he was the favorite, and he was the last to load and before they could get the doors shut he reared up, dropped the jockey, jumped the rail, and ran loose for 20 minutes. We were running out of options. He ran at Saratoga and Belmont but just ran okay, so I told Steve I was thinking about running over fences. I ended up buying out his share—then McDynamo's real career began.
"For a horse to break his maiden first time out at Far Hills was pretty impressive from the get-go. He won every year, seven consecutive seasons at Far Hills. He had huge scope when he left the ground. He probably made up more ground in the air than most horses do when they're running. His jump was pretty spectacular.
"He was a little reckless early on and he had a fall in a novice race at Belmont during his 5-year-old year, but he never fell again after that. He was such a funny horse mentally, he always needed something to occupy his brain. I don't think he would have made a good flat horse even if he didn't have issues with the gate; I think it would have been too boring for him. I think one reason he was such a good jumper was because he paid attention to everything.
"You don't get too many like him. He had so much adversity that he overcame. He had that ankle chip and fractured a hock behind, he was a bleeder and he colicked a couple times. But there was never any pressure, he had a chance to recover from the effort of all his races and we never pushed him too hard. We ran him in the spring and we ran him in the fall and we had fun. He didn't mind what kind of ground he'd run on, that was key.
"We retired him at the end of 2007 because we just didn't want to take a chance. He was 10 years old and retired sound; he had his nagging little ailments but he hunted a little bit after he was retired. He lives up in Cockranville, Pa., with Sanna, who did a great job with him for his whole steeplechase career. Last year he had some hind end issues and stifle issues starting to bother him a little, so he was off last year. He's been on a few walks with the hounds this season but for the most part he's retired. He's like a weekend golfer. We bring him carrots quite a bit."