11/16/2007 12:00AM

McDynamo makes title run

EmailWhile visiting his mother in South Carolina recently, Jody Petty watched a video of McDynamo's victory in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Grand National. As just a fan, the horse's jockey marveled at what he saw.

"I got cold chills - and I know what happened," he said. "Riding him, it's an easy feeling. Watching him, it looks more powerful, more impressive. I didn't get to ride him at the beginning of his career, but I appreciated him then. Now that I get to sit on him, I appreciate him that much more."

The best American steeplechaser of the decade and perhaps longer, McDynamo tops a field of eight in the Grade 1 Colonial Cup Sunday at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C. The $150,000 race will decide the steeplechase Eclipse Award and close the 2007 National Steeplechase Association season. Post time for the Cup is approximately 3 p.m. as the fifth race of seven on a card that starts at 12:30 p.m. There is no betting, but there will be plenty of drama.

The Eclipse winner in 2003, 2005, and 2006, McDynamo can join Flatterer and Lonesome Glory as the only horses to win four steeplechase championships. The 10-year-old son of Dynaformer ran away with the Breeders' Cup Grand National (his fifth consecutive win in that Grade 1) Oct. 20 to jump into the title picture with $187,500 earned this year.

At 2 3/4 miles and 17 fences on a fast, flat course, the Colonial Cup offers a unique test with a rare combination of a quick pace, lots of jumping and a demanding distance.

"It's extraordinarily difficult to win," said McDynamo's trainer, Sanna Hendriks. "You have to have speed, be a really good jumper, and have enough stamina to go that far."

Owned by Michael Moran, McDynamo blends all three like no other horse. He won the 2003 Colonial Cup in what was then a record 5:05.40, led at every call in 2005, and outran a game Mon Villez to take the 2006 running by a length. Jumping really matters in the race, which has been won by Hall of Famers Lonesome Glory, Flatterer, Zaccio, and Cafe Prince.

"It's a true jumpers' race," said Petty. "There are a lot of fences, they're a little bit bigger, and you're not going to miss too many and still be in it at the end. You get running flat out, then fences really matter even more. Lose a length at a fence and it could cost you the race."

As one of only two horses in the race to start over Springdale's natural hedge fences, which are slightly larger than the standard National Fence used in most races, McDynamo holds a decided advantage.

Good Night Shirt, the other Eclipse contender, makes his Colonial Cup debut but packs plenty of ability with two Grade 1 wins, a second, and a fourth (after challenging McDynamo) in the Breeders' Cup. The horses split two meetings this year with Good Night Shirt winning the three-mile Grade 1 Iroquois in May for owner Sonny Via and trainer Jack Fisher. Regular jockey Willie Dowling will be aboard the 6-year-old, who has earned $224,163 this year and can set a single-season earnings record with a win.

"McDynamo at Far Hills was simply spectacular," Fisher said. "The firm ground at Camden will give us some hope where we had none at Far Hills.

"We will try the same tactics as we did there. I don't know what else to do. We freshened him up after Far Hills and he's been doing good."

Trainer Doug Fout enters two horses, both 2007 stakes winners, Orison and Gliding. Orison won the Grade 2 Carolina Cup at Camden this spring over National Fences and finished a dull sixth in the Breeders' Cup while struggling with the soft turf. Matt McCarron gets the call on Orison, a son of Pulpit. Gliding won the Grade 2 Temple Gwathmey in April and the Grade 1 Foxbrook in novice company. He comes off a second in the Noel Laing two weeks ago. Paddy Young rides Gliding, a New Zealand import.

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard will run four horses, including three who took on McDynamo in the Breeders' Cup. Underbidder did the best of them that day when fifth, and he returned to easily win an allowance race Nov. 3. James Slater rides.

The Sheppard-trained Luongo was pulled up after setting the pace in the Breeders' Cup, but returns with veteran Chip Miller. Three Carat fell midway through the Breeders' Cup and seeks a return to the form that helped him finish second to McDynamo in the 2005 Breeders' Cup. Danielle Hodsdon takes the return call. Sheppard's only non-Breeders' Cup starter in this field, Sovereign Duty, exits a solid second to Gliding and makes his first start in open company. Leading jockey Xavier Aizpuru will ride.