Thoroughbred Dapper Dan was euthanized on June 27 due to injuries sustained in the $20,000 Steeplethon, held during the Virginia Gold Cup Races in The Plains, Virginia.
Dapper Dan fell at the stone wall in the final mile. Jockey Graham Watters suffered a fractured wrist but no other injuries.
Donna Rogers’ 8-year-old gelding (Pleasantly Perfect—Wardrobe, War Chant) was bred by Bertram and Diana Firestone and first raced in Indiana in 2014. He had 30 career starts, four wins and earned $144,390. Rogers bought him in 2016 after trainer Neil Morris brought him to her attention.
“I‘ve had steeplechase horses for almost 50 years now, and I was looking for a steeplechase prospect,” said Rogers. “[Neil] told me about a horse in Kentucky that was retired from racing on the flat. He was a big strong horse and had potential based on his winning on grass and winning over a distance on the flat. A big plus is that he was Virginia-bred by some very good friends of mine, the Firestones. He had a lovely pedigree. I had him vetted and bought him sight-unseen, and he was just grand.”
“Dan” blossomed in his jump racing career, and last year he won the timber stakes at the International Gold Cup at Great Meadow in October and placed second in the Steeplethon at the Virginia Gold Cup. He’d most recently finished second in an allowance race at the Middleburg Spring Races (Virginia) on June 13.
“He was a wonderful horse; he’s been a big part of my life,” Rogers said. “Just seeing him progress from a young horse only running on the flat to a strong horse who could run with the best of them over fences gave me so much joy. He always gave his best. The other nice thing is that Neil Morris is joint-master of Orange County Hounds [Virginia], and these past two winters he actually took Dan hunting and led the field with him. I’m also a joint-master with the Loudoun Fairfax Hunt [Virginia], so the plan was when he retired from running he would hopefully be one of my hunters. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness that everybody has shown after this tragic accident.”