11/16/2008 1:00AM

Good Night Shirt goes all out in Colonial Cup

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CAMDEN, S.C. - For all his achievements, Good Night Shirt never won ugly. He never won a street fight, never took a punch, never got off the canvas to claim victory.

Until now.

Taken to the limit by Preemptive Strike, Good Night Shirt capped an unbeaten 2008 season with a neck victory in the $150,000 Colonial Cup Steeplechase at Springdale Race Course in South Carolina on Sunday. Owned by Sonny Via and trained by Jack Fisher, the winner repeated his score in the race last year and won for the fifth time in as many starts this year (all Grade 1 stakes).

Good Night Shirt covered the 2 3/4 miles and 17 fences in 5:17.80 under jockey Willie Dowling. Preemptive Strike led from the outset, but settled for a gallant second with Best Attack 6 1/2 lengths back in third.

The winner added $90,000 to reach a record $485,520 for the year and ended any argument over the Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser. Also the champion in 2007, Good Night Shirt pushed his lifetime steeplechase earnings to $934,493 with 11 wins in 21 starts.

Nothing was easy about the victory. Preemptive Strike used his bold jumping style to set a strong pace and carried the field into the stretch. Second throughout, Good Night Shirt angled to the inside after the last fence, but didn’t make the lead until the final yards.

“I thought I was beaten jumping the last,” said Dowling. "Preemptive Strike really took it to me. It wasn’t until halfway through the run-in that he put his head down and was all out. He straightened up and had just a little bit left when he needed it. Today proves that he’s a fighter, too, when they throw it to him.”

Bred in Maryland by Tom and Chris Bowman, Good Night Shirt heads for a winter break and will be pointed for an 8-year-old campaign in 2009.