10/17/2008 11:00PM

Good Night Shirt just grand in National


FAR HILLS, N.J. - Good Night Shirt continued his assault on Grade 1 steeplechases with his fifth consecutive victory Saturday, running away to win the $250,000 Grand National Steeplechase at the Far Hills Races.

Owned by Sonny Via and trained by Jack Fisher, Good Night Shirt stalked pacesetter Red Letter Day through the first 2 miles and assumed the lead at the 13th of 14 fences. Kicking clear on the final turn, Good Night Shirt, ridden by Willie Dowling, ran away to score by four lengths in 4:54.20 for the 2 5/8 miles. Be Certain finished second with Best Attack third.

Bred in Maryland by Tom and Chris Bowman, the winner earned $150,000 and established a new single-season steeplechase earnings record of $395,520.

"He's a machine and he's getting better," said Dowling. "He's unbelievable, just one of those horses that can do it. I just sit on him and he knows when we turn down the back that the pace is picking up and it's becoming a race. Around the bend, I could feel his hind legs - they were rolling and he kept it going. "

The 7-year-old son of Concern improved to 10 for 20 in his steeplechase career with $844,493 earned. He now stands third behind retired legends McDynamo and Lonesome Glory on the National Steeplechase Association's all-time earnings list. McDynamo won the Grand National five consecutive times (including in 2007 over Good Night Shirt), but retired at the end of last season. Honored in a pre-race ceremony Saturday, McDynamo would be pleased by his successor.

"I think we might have given McDynamo a run for his money today, even though I'm happy for both horses we didn't have to," said Dowling.

The 2007 steeplechase Eclipse Award winner, Good Night Shirt will likely start next in the Grade 1, $150,000 Colonial Cup on Nov. 16 in Camden, S.C.