Champion Steeplechaser: Mixed Up

Champion Steeplechaser: Mixed Up
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Mixed Up jumps strong in the A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase.
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Mixed Up, steeplechasing’s Mr. Clutch 2009, passed three horses in the stretch of the Colonial Cup to win his second National Steeplechase Association grade I of the season and claim the Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser. The 10-year-old took owner Bill Pape back to the podium for the first time since Flatterer in 1986.

After four years of dominance by McDynamo and Good Night Shirt, the steeplechase division rediscovered competition as five horses won grade I stakes. Pierrot Lunaire, Mixed Up, Spy in the Sky, Red Letter Day, and Your Sum Man carried championship hopes into the Colonial Cup. Founded in 1970, the November race annually decides titles and did so again as Mixed Up sprinted past Red Letter Day to win by a neck under Danielle Hodsdon.

Mixed Up won four of eight starts and led all other steeplechasers with $184,495. Beyond 2009, the victory cemented Mixed Up’s career. The son of Carnivalay won six times on the flat (including a Pennsylvania-bred stakes) and took his first steeplechase grade I in 2006. Yet he toiled in the shadows. He starred in the spring and summer, but came up lacking in the fall when championships are won.

“He’s been at the top of the division for a spell here and there, but things seemed to fall off for him in other years,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. “This year he came through. To be 10 years old and run a race like that (in the Colonial Cup)? It’s a really neat way to cap his career, not that he’s finished.”

Taken off Lasix due to dehydration concerns, Mixed Up won his seasonal debut at Aiken in March. He backed that up with an easy allowance score in April. He rebounded from two defeats to win the A.P. Smithwick (NSA-I) at Saratoga. Two more losses started the usual autumn doubts, but Mixed Up put them all to rest.

When it mattered.

First-place vote totals: Mixed Up, 209; Red Letter Day, 3.

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