By Tod Marks
The National Steeplechase Association summer racing season ended with a thrilling finish as Riverdee Stable and Ten Strike Racing’s regally-bred Awakened, unleashed an all-out rally to nail South Branch Equine’s Robert’s Luxury by a nose in the final stride in today’s $50,000 flat race for jumpers at Colonial Downs.
The 2-mile contest over Colonial’s outer turf course was written for hurdlers who had started at the meet but didn’t win. A field of 10 went postward, and up until the stretch run it appeared as if it it was a one-horse race.
Hurricana Farm’s Real Factor, under Feargal Lynch, broke quickly and spurted off to a huge lead that held up until the field began turning for home for the final of two times around the New Kent, Va., course. By the time Real Factor headed into the far turn the first time, he had amassed a lead of about a sixteenth of a mile. Passing the wire after that first full loop, the track announcer described Real Factor’s lead as a “multiple Secretariat-like margin.”
Meanwhile the rest of the field bided their time, with Sonny Via’s Welshman, ridden by Graham Watters, Ashwell Stable’s Honor Up (Tom Garner), and Awakened racing closest to the runaway pacesetter.
At the quarter pole, Real Factor maintained a 15-length cushion, but his stride was beginning to shorten, as South Branch Equine’s Robert’s Luxury, ridden and trained by Sean McDermott, mounted a charge on the outside, and assumed command. But making an even bigger move to his outside was Awakened under Bargary’s furious urging, with the duo dueling to the wire, and Awakened getting the nod. William Russell’s Seismic Wave (Gerard Galligan) made a seismic move of his own to get up for third, beaten only a length or two by the leaders. Real Factor hung in for fourth.
For Jamie Bargary, the victory was the fourth in his past five mounts and his sixth overall this summer. For Hall of Fame trainer Jack Fisher, it was his third straight trip to the winner’s circle and fourth in his last five outings. Of course, Fisher scored the biggest prize of the summer when Bruton Street-US’ Snap Decision captured the Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard Stakes at Saratoga in August.
For five-year-old Awakened, who like Snap Decision was bred in Kentucky by the Phipps family, the victory was his first since breaking his maiden on the flat at Ellis Park in July 2021 when trained by another Hall of Famer, Shug McGaughey. The son of Curlin out of the Phipps-bred multiple stakes-winning mare Daydreaming (by A.P. Indy), signaled his readiness for a big performance with a close second in a maiden hurdle at Colonial in July.
The replay of the race can be watched here: https://vimeopro.com/nsafilms/colonial-september-5-2022
Full results will be found here: https://nationalsteeplechase.com/racing/