Steeplechase horse Top Man Michael was euthanized after suffering a fatal injury during the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup on Oct. 20 in Far Hills, New Jersey.
“Top Man Michael struck a timber fence in the second circuit of the timber race and fractured his left tibia,” stated Dr. Reynolds Cowles, chair of the National Steeplechase Safety Committee, in an email. “He did not fall but was pulled up by his rider. The horse was stabilized and evaluated by Dr. Kathleen Picciano, New Jersey Racing Commission veterinarian. After evaluation the decision was made to humanely euthanize.”
Jockey Darren Nagle was in the irons when Top Man Michael sustained the injury. The 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Antonius Pius—Top Brex, Top Ville) had 29 starts, nine wins and $130,106 in earnings. This May, Top Man Michael won the Radnor Hunt Cup Timber Stakes (Pennsylvania). The gelding was owned by Irv Naylor and trained by Cyril Murphy.
The $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup is a timber stakes race run over a 3 ¼-mile course at the Far Hills Race Meeting. Six horses contested the 2018 edition, including Top Man Michael, and the Irish horse Two’s Company won with Sean McDermott in the irons for owner Bruton Street and trainer Jack Fisher. No other injuries were reported in the field.
Longtime steeplechase photographer Tod Marks wrote a tribute to Top Man Michael he posted on social media. He called Top Man Michael “a stunningly beautiful horse who always tried his best. He had a distinct eye and personality, and I was lucky enough to see him compete so many, many times since his first start in the states. Heartfelt condolences to all who loved and cared for Top Man Michael.”