NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 1, 2008 – Nominations for horses to run in the 2008 Iroquois SteeplechaseSM have closed and Dwight Hall, director of racing, says Good Night Shirt is this year’s clear favorite.
“Good Night Shirt is by far the favorite to win,” said Hall. “Last year, he got his first win of the season at the Iroquois. He then went on to break the National Steeplechase Association single-season earnings record and win the 2007 Eclipse Award. He is back in the same form, if not better, this year.
“Good Night Shirt won the Georgia Cup in Atlanta, which is the only race he has run this season. He landed two lengths behind Hip Hop after the final jump, but finished strong to win by a length and a half. That performance shows why Good Night Shirt is considered to be the best horse on the circuit,” Hall added.
Good Night Shirt and Hip Hop could meet again at the Iroquois on May 10.
“Hip Hop is running well with two wins this season at Little Everglades and the Queens Cup. However, he is cross-entered in both the Iroquois and Marcellus Frost, the second race of the day. His trainer will determine the race that Hip Hop has the best chance of winning and run him there,” said Hall. “In past years Hip Hop has been a favorite, but defeating Good Night Shirt in a weight-for-age race might prove difficult.”
Good Night Shirt beat Hip Hop in the Georgia Cup with 16 pounds added to him as a handicap. The Iroquois is a weight-for-age race with no handicaps.
“If you’re looking for an upset, you might want to watch for Sweet Shani, owned by Calvin Houghland of Nashville. This tough, second-year mare from Australia placed second at Keeneland on April 17. She also placed second at the 2007 Breeders Cup at Fair Hills to McDynamo, three-time Eclipse winner and NSA career earnings record holder. I consider her to be a contender,” Hall said
Other nominations include Bow Strada, winner of the $25,000 hurdle at the Atlanta Steeplechase; Best Attack, who placed third at Keeneland; Orison, who placed fourth at Keeneland and won the 2007 Carolina Cup; and Mon Villez, a Houghland-owned horse with three consecutive victories in the Noel Laing stakes at Montpelier. Three solid allowance horses – Fra Diavolo, Kilbride Rd and Motel Affair – round out the field.
Horses nominated for the 2008 Iroquois Steeplechase (trainers in parentheses):
1. BEST ATTACK (F. Bruce Miller)
2. BOW STRADA (F. Bruce Miller)
3. FRA DIAVOLO (Jonathan Sheppard)
4. GOOD NIGHT SHIRT (Jack Fisher)
5. HIP HOP (John K. Griggs)
6. KILBRIDE RD (Doug Fout)
7. MON VILLEZ (F. Bruce Miller)
8. MOTEL AFFAIR (Thomas H. Voss)
9. ORISON (Doug Fout)
10. SWEET SHANI (Jonathan Sheppard)
Although pointed toward the 2008 Iroquois, Sur La Tete, a two-time Iroquois winner and runner up to Good Night Shirt in the 2007 Iroquois, was retired early this season because of a leg injury.
“We are looking at a solid field that will make for an exciting race,” Hall said. “Anytime you have the best horse on the circuit, it’s going to be fun to watch. But with Good Night Shirt running for a second consecutive Iroquois win, it’s going to be very memorable.”
Additional entries can be made until May 6 and scratches must be made by May 7. The drawing for post positions, which determines the horses’ saddlecloth numbers, will be held May 8 at 9:30 a.m. outside the barn office at the Iroquois grounds in Percy Warner Park.
Presented by Bank of America and benefiting Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, the 67th running of the Iroquois Steeplechase will be held May 10 in Nashville’s Percy Warner Park. The Iroquois’ race day purses and bonuses total $415,000, making it the second highest purse in American steeplechasing. Six races are held throughout the day, including the Bright Hour Amateur Hurdle.
About the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is a leading provider of pediatric healthcare, ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country and among the top 10 in the nation for Emergency Medicine and Neonatology by Child magazine. Constructed in 2004, the freestanding 222-bed children’s hospital is dedicated to high level pediatric and sub-specialty treatment and is also a training and research hospital, training many of the future’s top pediatric physicians. Ranked #6 in the nation for NIH Funding, research being conducted at Vanderbilt Children’s is helping shape the way the nation cares for children. Vanderbilt Children’s is the most comprehensive children’s hospital in the State, offering services from cancer treatments, organ and bone marrow transplants to broken legs and everything in between. Living by the principal of “family-centered care,” Vanderbilt Children’s was planned over the course of five years with the continuous involvement of patients and families to ensure their special needs were addressed and met. For more information, visit http://www.VanderbiltChildrens.com.