Virginia-owned Good Night Shirt, who won three out of five grade I starts last year, was honored Jan. 21 as the champion steeplechaser of 2007. The son of Concern, out of Hot Story (by Two Punch), defeated superstar McDynamo twice and set a single-season earnings record of $314,163 for owner Harold A. “Sonny” Via Jr. of Free Union, VA and trainer Jack Fisher.

Good Night Shirt first faced McDynamo, a three-time Eclipse champion, in the Iroquois Hurdle Stakes (NSA-I), which Good Night Shirt won by 5 1/4 lengths. McDynamo, 10, came back to even the score by taking the Breeders’ Cup Grand National (NSA-I) at Far Hills, NJ. The title came down to the season’s final grade I, the Colonial Cup at Camden, SC. Good Night Shirt proved the best again, winning the Colonial Cup by 2 1/4 lengths.

While Virginia-owned, Good Night Shirt’s roots are in Maryland. He is by Concern, the Maryland-bred winner of the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) who was by one of the finest Maryland-based horses ever, Broad Brush. His broodmare sire is Two Punch, a highly successful stallion at Northview Stallion Station in Chesapeake City, and Good Night Shirt was co-bred by Thomas Bowman, an owner of Northview.

Good Night Shirt did not run very well on the flat. He scored two victories on Pimlico Race Course’s turf in 2004, but it was clear he was unlikely to progress much further.

Sold to the Via’s, Good Night Shirt had solid racing seasons in 2005 and ‘06, including a victory in the ‘06 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Hurdle Stakes at Colonial Downs.

But, as 2007 began, Via and Fisher decided that the spring would determine whether Good Night Shirt continued over hurdles.

“The plan was to see what he could do,” Fisher said. “If he didn’t do well, then he would go over timber in the fall.”

Good Night Shirt performed very well to say the least. The chestnut gelding won three major hurdle races, established a single-season record for earnings over fences in the United States ($314,163), and collected the first Eclipse Award for Fisher, who was the jump sport’s leading trainer by wins for the third time in 2007.

(This story is combined from various sources. We apologize for the delay in publishing it. Photos by Tod Marks)