Bowmans marvel at power of ‘Shirt””

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They weren’t used to seeing the horses go around three times.

They asked if they could take a photograph with Good Night Shirt back at the barn and ended up in the winner’s circle.

They said they were leaving right after the race, then Good Night Shirt won . . . and they were still talking after the fifth.

The Bowmans, breeders of Good Night Shirt, did Far Hills.

“We were up top there and Becky’s getting nervous, holding my hand, like it was the first horse race she’d ever been to,” Dr. Tom Bowman said. “I said, ‘Becky, just calm down.’ She said, ‘I don’t know Dad, for some reason, I’m just so excited about this race.’ It was an awesome performance. The whole experience of being here is really, really cool.”

Dr. Tom Bowman, Chris Bowman (wife), Becky Davis (daughter), Frank Davis (son-in-law), Catherine Davis (granddaughter), Allison Davis (granddaughter), Quin Hickman (daughter), Dennis Hickman (son-in-law) and Stewart Hickman (grandson) enjoyed – and became part of – the Good Night Shirt show.

Top Maryland breeders, the Bowmans hadn’t seen the 7-year-old since he was a 2-year-old, but they followed him. Followed him through a two-win flat career, nine wins over jumps, an Eclipse Award, all the way to Far Hills for his fifth consecutive Grade I achievement and 10th career jump victory.

“This is a different world, but when you see a champion performance in any sport, especially in a sport like this, you recognize the difference between some horses,” Dr. Bowman said. “This guy is in a different level than the rest of them. It looked like to me, that he really wasn’t working real hard. It was a thrill.”

Bowman also bred two-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner Bug River. Obviously, neither Bug River nor Good Night Shirt was bred with jumping in mind. But here they are, doing something that seems so natural. So pre-destined.

“He taught me the same thing as Bug River, that most of the successes you have in this game are, at best, happenstance, and many of them are absolutely accidental,” Bowman said. “All the plotting, planning and thinking you do and many of the successes come out of left field. It’s humbling, it kind of lets you know that you’re not as bright as you might think you are. This is a Two Punch mare, there is absolutely no way this would happen. Just pure coincidence.”

Good Night Shirt is by Concern, a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner trained by Dickie Small. Concern excelled at closing from last while going 10 furlongs – a marathon for flat horses – while the dam, Two Punch’s daughter Hot Story, was stakes-placed and represents speed.

“Dickie said he never saw the bottom of Concern. You get that Broad Brush endurance . . . this horse looked like he could run 5 miles and he would have been in the same position,” Bowman said. “It was a real thrill. I saw a lot of people here that I’ve seen occasionally, met once or twice, it was a real pleasure to talk for a while. And my whole family got to be here.”