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Divine Fortune gives Sheppard 13th Eclipse Award winner
DIVINE FORTUNES CO-OWNERS, Jonathan Sheppard (left) and Bill Pape talk in the paddock at the Springdale Race Course at last Novembers Colonial Cup. - photo by C-I photo by Tom Didato
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.