'Chasing: Good Night Shirt, 2-years away, returns?
It's not April 1st but who knows if this some kind of Kardashian wedding stunt
Good Night Shirt has won the Eclipse Award for Steeplechaser twice - in fact took 217 of 219 votes last time - and left the sport for the land of clover and afternoons of freedom having done it all, but having a bum ankle. However it appears the Champion maybe making a comeback in no small race!
“He was feeling good, sharp, almost crazy, really hard to ride. The vets say his ankle is fine now – fused, knitted or something. They called it a miracle.” - Jack Fisher
And here he is. Good Night Shirt, champion steeplechaser of 2007 and 2008 but unraced since 2009, appears on the nomination list for the Grade I Colonial Cup (to be run Nov. 19 at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.). Nominations closed Tuesday with 14 horses signed on: Arcadius, Black Jack Blues, Decoy Daddy, Divine Fortune, Dynaski, Here Comes Art, Italian Wedding, Lead Us Not, Nationbuilder, Organisateur, Sermon Of Love, Tax Ruling and Your Sum Man joining Good Night Shirt on the list.
It all started harmlessly enough. This year, the Cup is honoring Good Night Shirt and four other horses who managed to win the Colonial and Carolina Cups in their careers. The rare double has been done just five times – by Good Night Shirt, Lonesome Glory, Mistico, Moonstruck and Zaccio. Race organizers wanted a visit from the champ so Fisher started riding his horse, owned by Sonny Via, as a lead pony, then as a jogging mate, then as a galloping mate, then as a work mate.
“We couldn’t take him to Camden without doing something with him,” said Fisher, whose horse retired with a serious ankle injury that required surgery. “He was fat and out of shape. It would have been bad for his image and a little hard on him too. We didn’t want to embarrass him, so we started riding him – simple stuff, walking, jogging, whatever – just to get the weight off him and to get him ready for the van ride. Then he got fit.”
Fisher sent the horse to Swedish new-age veterinarian Dr. Uno Thisisnttrue, who put Good Night Shirt through a full battery of experiments and pronounced him racing fit.
The rest (in the story) is pretty much history as he appears to be a possible runner November 19th and perhaps joining Da Hass with the "greatest comeback since Lazarus". Stay tuned or better yet go to the Colonial Cup!!
It depends on where it is fused! If he was gimpy I doubt he'd get to start. And healed bone is just as strong as (actually stronger) than the original.
No doubt, but he did have surgery for what they describe as a "serious injury"... you have to think flexion is compromised to some degree. Oh well, I am sure they are looking out for his best interests...would be thrilled to see him make a successful return.
...however, he is among the nominees.
The $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) has attracted 14 accomplished nominees, promising a large and talented field for the year's final major steeplechase race on Saturday, Nov. 19.
Arcadius. 2004 b. g., Giant's Causeway--Unify, by Farma Way. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2011 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Finished seventh in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at the Far Hill Races in New Jersey on Oct. 22, his first start over fences since winning the $100,000 Helen Haskell Sampson (Gr. 1) at Monmouth Park in September 2010.
Black Jack Blues (Ire). 2003 b. g., Definite Article (GB)--Melody Maid, by Strong Gale. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Joseph Delozier III. 2011 record: 8-5-1-0, $200,949. Three-time winner in novice stakes in England and Wales is unbeaten in the U.S. with a commanding seven-length win in the Grand National after an uncontested 4 1/4-length victory in Dorothy Fred Smithwick Stakes at Virginia Fall on Oct. 1.
Decoy Daddy (Ire). 2002 ch. g., Lord of Appeal--Young Bebe, by M. Double M. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Tom Foley. 2011 record: 5-3-2-0, $124,100. Has two 2011 graded victories, in the Marcellus Frost (Gr. 2) at Iroquois Steeplechase and Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at the Middleburg Spring Races. Most recently won Montpelier's Noel Laing Stakes for a second straight year on Nov. 5. Finished a good second to Divine Fortune in the A. P. Smithwick (Gr. 2) at Saratoga before falling on Saratoga's final turn after bumping incident in the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr.1).
Divine Fortune. 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem--My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2011 record: 3-1-0-0, $46,000. Won A. P. Smithwick for second straight year and then was disqualified from fourth to sixth in Saratoga's New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) for bumping incident. Lost jockey in Grand National in his only start this fall.
Dynaski. 2003 b. g., Dynaformer--Ski Racer (Fr), by Ski Chief. Owner: Armata Stable. Trainer: Tom Voss. 2011 record: 3-0-0-2, $38,000. Improved from fifth in A. P. Smithwick (Gr. 2) to be third in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) at Saratoga and most recently third in the Grand National.
Good Night Shirt. 2001 ch. g., Concern--Hot Story, by Two Punch. Owner: Harold A. "Sonny" Via Jr. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2011 record: 0-0-0-0, $0. Two-time Eclipse Award champion, in 2007 and 2008, won the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) in those years. Last raced in May 2009, when he finished second in the Iroquois Stakes (Gr. 1) in Nashville. Currently ranks second on the all-time earnings list with $1,006,493, behind only McDynamo.
Here Comes Art. 2002 gr. or ro. g., Royal Anthem--Heirloom Wish, by Lyphard's Wish (Fr). Owner: Carrington Racing Stable. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. 2011 record: 3-1-0-1, $39,800. Won Ninepins, an optional allowance at Saratoga on Sept. 1, with trainer in the saddle. Came back from a long break to finish third in the Jonathan Kiser Novice on July 28 but was pulled up in the Michael G. Walsh Novice three weeks later.
Italian Wedding. 2005 b. g., Alphabet Soup--Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2011 record: 5-1-0-0, $51,200. Won Michael G. Walsh Novice at Saratoga and most recently was pulled up in the Grand National. Previously finished fourth in Saratoga's Jonathan Kiser Novice, Radnor's National Hunt Cup, and Atlanta's Georgia Cup.
Lead Us Not. 2002 ch. g., Royal Anthem--Sultress, by Gallant Romeo. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2011 record: 4-0-1-0, $4,100. Finished second to Cuse in the $15,000 Suntrust Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens on Nov. 5. Finished well-beaten fifth in Dorothy Fred Smithwick and was pulled up in only other 2011 start, First Carolina Block House, an allowance race at Tryon, N.C., on April 23.
Nationbuilder. 2004 dk. b. or br. g., Came Home--Seattle Bay, by Opening Verse. Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2011 record: 5-0-0-3, $31,000. Finished third in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 2) before fifth (placed fourth) in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) and third in Dorothy Fred Smithwick. Pulled up in the Grand National.
Organisateur (Ire). 2005 b. g., Highest Honor--Willamina, by Sadler's Wells. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Bruce Miller. 2011 record: 5-02-0, $16,935. Accomplished handicap hurdler in England finished second in the Grand National before refusing last fence in the Noel Laing. Fifth in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 18 in his U.S. debut.
Sermon of Love. 2003 b. g., Pulpit--Plenty of Sugar, by Ascot Knight. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2011 record: 3-0-1-0, $8,200. Finished second to Decoy Daddy in the Noel Laing on Nov. 5. Taken down by fallen Decoy Daddy in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 25. Scored two stakes victories at Saratoga Race Course last year, the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) and the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes.
Tax Ruling. 2003 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer--Fantastic Find, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Brianne Slater. 2011 record: 3-1-0-0, $93,500. Won second straight $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 14. Pulled up in the Grand National, his most recent start on Oct. 22. Finished distant fourth the Carolina First Carolina Cup (Gr. 3).
Your Sum Man. 2002 b. g., Pistolet Bleu--Annie Cares, by Be My Native. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Tom Voss. 2011 record: 4-0-1-2, $26,900. Most recently third in the Noel Laing after a fourth-place finish in the Grand National. Finished third in David L. (Zeke) Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on June 26 after second in Strawberry Hill Classic.
Honestly though is he entered into the field simply as an ambassador because he's being honored and will do some sort of a parade lap? Or is the entry legit and a 50/50 chance of running again? I know I sound like a rube asking the question as a horse off for 2-years without a start jumping into [no pun intended] a Grade 1-NSA race seems outlandish then again that's what they said about Da Hoss in 1998.
It must have been a typo; Good Night Shirt doesn't appear anywhere in the 2011 Colonial Cup Meet results.
No typo. Jack did indeed nominate him for the CC. It was kinda a joke, kinda serious. The Shirt was honored in a retirement/appreciation ceremony at the CC. He was on the grounds that day, and Willie and The Shirt took a "victory lap."
Some 50-years later and is the predicament any different?
Unfortunately, however, in spite of their obvious attractions, there are all too few events for horses over jumps. While the sport of steeplechasing and hurdling—along with the timber races of the spring and fall hunt meetings—has not completely disappeared, its existence has been severely threatened by the influential forces that persist in thinking of racing more and more in terms of business and less and less in terms of a combination of business and sport.
Of the 96 tracks in this country, only six have a regular schedule of steeplechasing and hurdling.
The total gross purses from all jump races, in which 457 horses participated in 1960, was only $809,405, as compared to flat racing's 30,000 starters and $93 million in purse money. There was only one $50,000 steeplechase, as against 45 flat races worth $100,000 or more. The leading money-winning 'chaser of 1960, Mrs. Marion duPont Scott's Benguala, won $70,139, while flat racing's Bally Ache took down $455,045.
Mrs. Scott was also the most successful owner of jumpers, collecting winnings of $101,419. This is one-tenth of what the C. V. Whitney stable earned with a string of 34 flat racers.
A $50k steeplechase race in 1961 dollars is equal to $360,300.58 in 2010 dollars. Whereas the highest pursed steeplechase race - the Far Hills (NJ) Grand National is for just $250k
'Benguala' having won $70,139 in 1960 'chasing purses is equal to a whopping $510,476.68 in 2010 dollars! Whereas in 2011 (season just ended) the highest earning NSA horse was 'Black Jack Blues' with a mere $171,000. (Bon Caddo was the highest timber horse with just $73,500 in 2011)
In 2011 the richest stable/owner was Irv Naylor hauling in $719,725; the cited Mrs. Scott (in 1960) would've netted in inflation adjusted dollars for 2010 $738,135, so at least that is similar.
Interestingly the plan in 1961 - quoted below - was not unlike the same old mantra pitched today. That doesn't mean its not without merit or won't always be a key way to push the sport. However I really would think in almost 2012 there isn't another grass-roots, lower costs plan that couldn't yield more interest. Yes, a few owners have entered the NSA with horses that didn't make it as flat-chasers for a second racing career.
Still it will take more energy than that to make 'chasing what it could be. A far more widely enjoyed form of traditional entertainment mixed with some wagering, party atmosphere, and in an always enticing bucolic setting.
Furthermore, the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association (which, along with a group known as the United Hunts, governs all U.S. jump racing) has recently begun thinking along promotional lines.
A three-man Trainers Committee has been appointed to spread the word among trainers of flat horses who may be considering future races over jumps. The committee, for example, points out to trainers that many flat horses—such as Nala, Rythminhim, Flying Fury and Our Jeep—who never did make it on dirt or turf became money-making jumpers.
But the few leading horsemen who support jumping, along with the small number of wealthy landowners who gladly allow their farmed estates to be used for hunt meetings each year, cannot rebuild the sport by themselves. The other important owners who pretend it is such a shame to see jump racing disappear must get back into this game or it will disappear.
Naylor won his first National Steeplechase Association championship last year, when he outlasted Bill Pape in a thriller. Naylor won again in 2011, but it was not a thriller. It was thrilling, however, watching Naylor set a record with $719,725 in earnings – from a purse structure of less than $5 million.
Again it's shrunk by at or around 10% over 51-years