Divine Fortune takes Colonial Cup steeplechase

CAMDEN, S.C. (AP) Defending steeplechase Eclipse Award winner Divine Fortune took a six-length lead at the start and remained out front the rest way for a nine-length victory over Barnstorming in the $100,000 Colonial Cup on Saturday.

Divine Fortune won for the second time in five steeplechase starts and broke the three-race win streak of Demonstrative this season. Demonstrative finished third, a nose behind Barnstorming in the field of six at Springdale Racecourse.

Devine Fortune ran the 17-fence, two mile and six furlong course in a time of 5 minutes, 13 2/5 seconds. The winner is owned by William L. Pape and Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. Darren Nagle was aboard Divine Fortune. Both the first two finishers were trained by Sheppard, who had saddled four of the six starters.

Darren Nagle was aboard for the winning ride, his first Colonial Cup victory. Both the first two finishers were trained by Sheppard, who had saddled four of the six starters.

Top Striker was fourth, followed by Bluegrass Summer and Parker's Project.

Divine Fortune, an 11-year-old Royal Anthem gelding, was never seriously threatened after taking Nagle to the quick early lead.

''That horse likes to run along and be the boss and have everybody follow him,'' said Nagle after riding his first Colonial Cup winner. ''He jumps great. He's a special horse.''

Demonstrative had won three straight Grade I steeplechases coming into the final stop of the National Steeplechase Association season. He stalked the early pace behind both Divine Fortune and Top Striker, the latter trying to become only the third horse to ever win the Carolina Cup, run here each March, and the Colonial Cup in the same calendar year.

Divine Fortune ''kind of stole the start a little bit,'' Sheppard said. ''That kind of set the race up right there. That's where he wants to be. Then, he keeps putting in those huge jumps when they close up to him and he opens up a bit at the fences.''

No horse came within four lengths of the winner through the race.

Divine Fortune, whose first win of the year came at the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Steeplechase in May in Nashville, Tennessee, was coming off a second-place finish behind Demonstrative in the $250,000 Grand National Oct. 18 in Far Hills, New Jersey.

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