Diplomat and Swansea Mile, winners of Saratoga Race Course’s two Grade 1 jump races this summer, are among 11 nominees to Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Thursday, Sept. 21.
The 2 1/2-mile Lonesome Glory will complete the New York Racing Association’s trifecta of Grade 1 jump races and will be a prelude to the year’s richest steeplechase race, the $400,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), on Oct. 21 at Far Hills, N.J.
Both Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat and Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile collected their first Grade 1 victories at long odds. Swansea Mile, trained by Ricky Hendriks, struck first in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial on July 27.
With Michael Mitchell in the saddle, Swansea Mile fired into the lane, opened daylight at the furlong pole, and won by two lengths at 28.50-1 odds. In his wake was Diplomat, who finished third.
Diplomat’s turn came next in the New York Turf Writers Cup on Aug. 24. Benefitting from a canny ride by Bernie Dalton, a low weight in the handicap, and a blinkers-off call by trainer Kate Dalton, Diplomat surged to the lead before Saratoga’s furlong pole and won by three lengths at 17.70-to-1 odds.
Swansea Mile finished fifth, 6 1/2 lengths behind Diplomat. Hendriks also nominated Rosbrian’s Simenon, who was pulled up in the A. P. Smithwick.
Finishing second in Saratoga’s Grade 1 races was Robert A. Kinsley’s Modem, who was nominated for a shot at a breakthrough U.S. victory in the Lonesome Glory. Favored in both Saratoga races, the British-bred is trained by Elizabeth Voss and carries the highest National Steeplechase Association rating of any horse currently in training at 140.
Right behind him at 139 is Sonny Via’s Hinterland, who was second in last year’s Lonesome Glory and also second in this year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). He’s trained by Jack Fisher, who also nominated Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff, a 2013 Grade 1 winner who finished seventh in last month’s New York Turf Writers.
Steeplechase racing’s two active Hall of Fame trainers, Jonathan Sheppard and Janet Elliot, have nominees in line for the Lonesome Glory. Sheppard, the sport’s all-time leader by wins and earnings, nominated Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, who finished third in the New York Turf Writers.
Elliot nominated Gregory Hawkins’ Alajmal, a 2013 Grade 1 winner who most recently lost his rider in the Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3).
English trainer Emma Lavelle nominated Mighty Acorn Stables’ Casino Markets, who finished eighth in the New York Turf Writers, his U.S. debut.
Irv Naylor, the reigning champion owner, nominated Charminster, the veteran who finished sixth in the New York Turf Writers. Trained by Cyril Murphy, Charminster won last year’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) and was second in the Virginia Gold Cup race this year.
Trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. nominated Mark W. Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, who won Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes and finished sixth in the New York Turf Writers.
Here are the 11 nominees to the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Alajmal. 2008 b. g., First Samurai—Alattrah, by Shadeed. Owner: Gregory D. Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Breeder: Shadwell Farm (Ky.) 2017 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,500. 2016 NSA record: No starts. 2015 record: 4-0-0-0, $6,000. Finished third in 2017 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, then was pulled up in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) and lost rider in National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Missed 2016 season. Bookended his 2013 season with victories in the Carolina Cup and Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). (120)
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2017 record: 5-1-1-2, $49,300. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. 2015 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,750. Won Fair Hill’s $40,000 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap by 15 1/4 lengths, then lost rider in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and was third in New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1). Finished third in 2017 Tryon Block House handicap, then was second in Iroquois ratings handicap. Clinched 2014 novice championship with Foxbrook Champion Hurdle victory. (132)
Casino Markets (Ire). 2008 br. g., Fruits of Love—Vals Dream, by Pierre. Owner: Mighty Acorn Stables. Trainer: Emma Lavelle. Breeder: Ms. V. Cronin (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Was no factor in 2017 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), his U.S. debut, and finished eighth. From Wiltshire stable of innovative National Hunt trainer, had three consecutive wins in 2016 and two third-place finishes in the spring of 2017 at Cheltenham and Sandown. (134)
Charminster (Ire). 2006 b. g., Broadway Flyer—Monteleena, by Montelimar. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Breeder: Raymond Cahalane (Ire). 2017 record: 3-0-1-1, $23,000. 2016 record: 6-1-2-1, $93,000. Began 2017 with solid second in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2), a race he won in 2016, and then was third in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Brushed in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and finished sixth. Faded to fifth in 2016 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1), then was third in 2016 Lonesome Glory (Gr. 1). (131)
Diplomat. 2009 b. g., Kitten’s Joy—Waki Affair, by Miswaki. Owner: Flying Elvis Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Breeders: Ken and Sarah Ramsey (Ky.) 2017 NSA record: 5-1-0-2, $113,750. 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,000. 2015 record: 7-3-0-0, $126,750. Won 2017 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at 17.70-1 odds. Began 2017 with fourth in Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, then was fifth in Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) and third in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap and Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won 2015 International Gold Cup’s Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3). Bred by champion owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and is a full brother to stakes-placed Kitten Love. (131)
Hinterland (Fr). 2008 b. g., Poliglote (GB)—Queen’s Place, by Diamond Prospect. Owner: Harold A. “Sonny” Via Jr. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Eric Aubree and Christian Bresson (Fr). 2017 record: 1-0-1-0, $36,000. 2016 record: No starts. 2015 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $27,000. Finished distant second in 2017 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in 2015 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), his second U.S. start after seventh in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). (139)
Modem (GB). 2010 b. g., Motivator—Alashaan, (GB), by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Deer (GB). 2017 NSA record: 1-0-1-0, $27,000. Finished second in Saratoga’s 2017 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), his American debut, and New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) as favorite in both races. Arrived in U.S. after allowance victory in provincial Irish track Ballinrobe. Durable gelding has seven wins in 47 career starts. (140)
Mr. Hot Stuff. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Tiznow—Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: WinStar Farm (Ky.) 2017 record: 3-0-0-1, $5,000. 2016 record: No starts. Finished third in 2017 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) after missing 2016 season, then was pulled up in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and seventh in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Won 2015 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Won the 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at Saratoga. (136)
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 5-2-1-0, $112,000. 2016 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Finished sixth in Saratoga’s 2017 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) after winning Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths, then finished second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished distant fifth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Won maiden over hurdles in Ireland in late 2015. (133)
Simenon (Ire). 2007 b. g., Marju (Ire)—Epistoliere, by Alzao. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Max Morris (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 3-0-0-1, $7,500. 2016 NSA record: No starts. Pulled up in 2017 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Finished respectable third in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup. Had two wins last summer in England, one on the flat and the other over hurdles. Has world-class speed over a distance and has a second and two fourth-place finishes in Ascot Gold Cup (Eng-Gr. 1) at 2 1/2 miles. (131)
Swansea Mile (Ire). 2010 b. g., Dylan Thomas (Ire)—Hurry Up Helen, by In the Wings (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: W. Kane (Ire). 2017 record: 5-1-1-1, $108,900. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. Won Saratoga’s 2017 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 28.50-to-1, then finished fifth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Opened 2017 with second in Steeplechase of Charleston’s featured optional allowance hurdle and then was fourth in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Finished third in High Hope’s featured optional allowance hurdle. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) in U.S. debut. (130)