Flat Top Wins Colonial Cup Steeplechase

Nancy Gerry's Flat Top slammed the door shut on a
steeplechase championship with a game victory over Tres Touche in Sunday's $100,000 Marion du Pont Scott Colonial Cup (gr. I) at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.

At the start, Flat Top took his customary position on the lead but was quickly joined by Tres Touche. The two (also 1-2 in the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase on Oct. 19) battled throughout and jumped five consecutive fences together on the backstretch the final time.

On the inside around the final turn, Flat Top, with Rob Massey in the irons, gained a slight advantage on landing over the 16th of 17 fences. The 1998 Eclipse Award maintained his advantage to the last and held on in the stretch to win by 6 1/4 lengths over Tres Touche (Dave Bentley). All Gong (Chip Miller) was third.

Time for the 2 3/4 miles over a soft turf course was 5:25 1/5. It's A Giggle, also an Eclipse Award contender, was scratched an hour before the race because of the soft turf conditions.

Trained by Janet Elliot, Flat Top collected $60,000 with the win and sewed up the 2002 earnings title with $237,831. He looks like a lock to win his second career Eclipse Award as Champion Steeplechaser.

A 9-year-old son of Alleged, Flat Top was bred in Kentucky and sold as a yearling at the Keeneland Sale to noted flat owner Ken Ramsey. After three flat starts, the powerful bay was sold as a steeplechaser. Flat Top won for the ninth time in 17 career jump starts. His $593,806 in career earnings rank fourth on the all-time American list.

"I was just hoping (Tres Touche) wasn't going to set my horse alight when he came to me," said Massey. "It would have been a disaster if the two of us had got running too freely. Thankfully, it didn't bother Flat Top in the slightest.

"He stuck to his game plan and stayed relaxed the whole way. It takes a special type of individual not to be fazed by what's going on around. He was relaxed, settled and enjoying himself."

The Colonial Cup ended the 2002 steeplechase season. Individual championships went to trainer Tom Voss and jockey Dave Bentley (who held off Gus Brown 18-17).

Flat Top's win gave the owner championship to Nancy Gerry, whose stable collected $250,431.

Among the horses, divisional titles went to Flat Top (overall earnings), Young Dubliner (timber), McDynamo (Sport of Kings novice), Zabenz (novice) and Pal's Pride (3-year-old).