11/16/2001 12:00AM

Quel Senor going for Eclipse


Until last month, Quel Senor had never won a Grade 1 race. Now he's on the brink of winning an Eclipse Award as the nation's top steeplechase horse.

Quel Senor, surprise winner of the $250,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase on Oct. 20, can strengthen his championship credentials in Sunday's $100,000 Colonial Cup, the final Grade 1 steeplechase of the season.

A winner of three of six starts this season and $178,500, Quel Senor can move past Praise the Prince to become the year's leading money-earner if he captures the Colonial Cup, worth $60,000 to the winner. Praise the Prince is not among the 10 rivals Quel Senor will face in the 2 3/4-mile Colonial Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C.

Quel Senor, trained by the season's leading jump trainer, Tom Voss, will be ridden by Cyril Murphy. His competition includes five horses who have tasted Grade 1 success.

Lord Zada, who finished 5 3/4 lengths behind Quel Senor as the runner-up in the BC Steeplechase, gets a rider switch to Gus Brown, the nation's leading steeplechase jockey.

Last year's steeplechase champion, All Gong, also will have a new rider. Robert Massey replaces the injured Blythe Miller. All Gong finished second in his first four starts this year before falling at the eighth fence in the BC Steeplechase.

Pinkie Swear and Hokan, who both ran well in the BC 'Chase before tiring late to finish fourth and sixth, will take another crack at Quel Senor. Al Skywalker, fifth on this year's money list with $114,881, won the Grade 1 Bank of America Carolina Cup in Camden in the spring and comes into this race off a win at Montpelier on Nov. 3.