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Divine Fortune gives Sheppard 13th Eclipse Award winner

Posted: January 21, 2014 9:33 a.m.
Updated: January 22, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Bill Pape and Jonathan Sheppard’s Divine Fortune, dominant winner of the $250,000 Grand National at the Far Hills Races last October, was honored Saturday evening with the 2013 Eclipse Award as Thoroughbred racing’s champion steeplechase horse.
Trained by Sheppard, a Racing Hall of Fame member and part-time Camden, Divine Fortune enjoyed a breakout 2013 campaign as the veteran chaser scored the biggest win of its career by galloping to a 5 ½-length victory in the $250,000 Grand National in Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 19 with Darren Nagle in the saddle.
The Grand National triumph was the second score of the year for Divine Fortune which won Stoneybrook’s Sandhills Cup last April. Divine Fortune finished second by a neck to Demonstrative in the $150,000 Iroquois in Nashville last May and was third in the $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial in Saratoga last August.
Divine Fortune, which ran fourth in last November’s $100,00 Colonial Cup, led the National Steeplechase Association in earnings with a career-best $207,000 from seven 2013 starts with two wins, a second and a third. Pape also was honored as the year’s NSA champion owner while Sheppard was the NSA’s leading trainer in earnings while tying Jack Fisher for having sent out 20 winners on the season.
Divine Fortune, an 11-year-old Royal Anthem gelding,  was Pape’s fifth individual Eclipse winner either as sole owner or co-owner. Preceding Divine Fortune were Athenian Idol (1973), Martie’s Anger (1979), Hall of Fame member Flatterer (1983-1986), and Mixed Up (2009). All of his champions have been trained by Sheppard, who has trained nine jumpers and runners to a total of 13 Eclipse Awards.
Sheppard accepted the Eclipse Award at the 43rd annual dinner at Gulfstream Park from Lonny Powell, chief executive of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association.
The 43rd Eclipse Awards will be presented at the annual banquet to be held on Saturday, Jan. 18 at Gulfstream Park Racetrack and Casino in Hallandale Beach, Fla. The Eclipse Awards, honoring excellence in Thoroughbred racing, are voted upon by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters and the Daily Racing Form.
Divine Fortune beat out fellow finalists the Sheppard-owned and trained Italian Wedding and Gustavian for the honor.
Wise Dan repeats as Horse of Year: Wise Dan won its second consecutive Horse of the Year honor on Saturday night.
The 7-year-old turf specialist ran off with the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Mile and beat out Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man and five-time 3-year-old winner Will Take Charge in the race for Horse of the Year. Mucho Macho Man was selected as the Eclipse Award winner for older horse while Will Take Charge was voted the Eclipse Award for 3-year-old male.
The 2013 Eclipse Awards winners were:

Horse of the Year: Wise Dan; Two-Year-Old Male: Shared Belief; Two-Year-Old Filly: She’s a Tiger; Three-Year-Old Male: Will Take Charge; Three-Year-Old Filly: Beholder; Older Male: Wise Dan; Older Female: Royal Delta; Male Sprinter: Points Offthebench; Female Sprinter: Groupie Doll; Male Turf Horse: Wise Dan; Female Turf Horse: Dank (GB); Steeplechase Horse: Divine Fortune; Owner: Ken and Sarah Ramsey; Breeder: Ken and Sarah Ramsey; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Javier Castellano; Apprentice Jockey: Victor Carrasco

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