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Divine Fortune wires field in Stoneybrook feature

Posted: April 9, 2013 11:59 a.m.
Updated: April 10, 2013 5:00 a.m.
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TRAINER JONATHAN SHEPPARD SADDLED Divine Fortune, winner of Saturday's $25,000 Sandhills Cup.

Divine Fortune, trained in Camden by Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard,  jumped onto the lead immediately in Saturday’s  $25,000 Sandhills Cup and pulled away in the final furlong to a 2 3/4-length victory over Slip Away in the featured open allowance hurdle at the 62nd Stoneybrook Steeplechase at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Slip Away, the 2010 Eclipse Award-winning steeplechase horse, held off Irv Naylor’s Decoy Daddy, who finished third. Inti, the only other starter in a very strong field, took fourth money. Divine Fortune completed the Sandhills Cup’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:44.80 on firm turf.
In most of their races, Slip Away sets the pace and Divine Fortune usually sits just behind the speed, but Bill Pape’s 10-year-old gelding went right to the front under Darren Nagle in the Sandhills Cup. “I let him break. I wanted him to be where he was comfortable,” Nagle said. “I was happy to let him go on.”
Traveling well within himself, Divine Fortune maintained a clear lead throughout the race. Jockey Paddy Young placed Slip Away in a stalking position on the inside, but the 10-year-old Skip Away gelding was unable to cut into Divine Fortune’s margin.
Divine Fortune’s Sandhills Cup score gave Nagle his second win on the five-race program under clear skies. He also rode Sheppard’s Bluegrass Summer to a victory in the $15,000 Stoneybrook Cup maiden hurdle.
The Sandhills Cup was Divine Fortune’s first victory since the 2012 Block House allowance race.
Another Hall of Fame trainer and part-time Camden resident, Janet Elliot, had a winner on the flat at Stoneybrook as Maggie Neary won the 1 ½-mile race by two lengths with Nancy Boska up. One week earlier, Elliot saddled Alajmal for its win in the $50,000 Carolina Cup.
At the inaugural Dogwood Classic at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va., on Saturday, Rock Ford Stable’s Sporty took charge in the late stages and drew clear to a one-length victory over Sillium in the featured $25,000 allowance hurdle. Brave Prospect finished third.
Trained by Julie Gomena and ridden by Mark Beecher, Sporty, which broke its maiden at the Colonial Cup last fall, ran the 2 1/4-mile distance in 4:23.20 on firm turf. Final Straw finished fourth in the field of eight, and 2012 three-year-old champion More Tea Vicar finished fifth.
The two Saturday stops were the third and fourth meets of the National Steeplechase Association schedule which heads to Atlanta and My Lady’s Manor on Saturday.

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