Gustavian, making his first start in the silks of Magalen O. Bryant, secured the biggest victory of his career when he fought off a dead-game All Together to win Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) by a nose on Thursday, Sept. 19. Paddy Young rode Gustavian for his wife, trainer Leslie Young, who previously had trained the Giant’s Causeway gelding for Hickory Tree Stable.
Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s Italian Wedding, the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) winner in his previous start, finished third, 1 3/4 lengths behind All Together, who stumbled badly after the final fence but regained his momentum and battled Gustavian to the finish line. Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative was fourth in a field on nine.
Sent to starter Barry Watson as the 3.85-1 second betting choice, Gustavian paid $9.70 to win after running the Lonesome Glory’s 2 1/2 miles in 4:35.92 on firm turf. The Lonesome Glory was Gustavian’s first win since last year’s William Entenmman Memorial Novice Stakes on Belmont’s Lonesome Glory program.
Leslie Young said she followed the same pattern as last year, skipping Saratoga to target Belmont. “We freshened him up, happy and healthy coming into Belmont, a big, galloping track. He liked it last year, so we thought, ‘Why not for a big Grade 1 like this?’ “
Her husband agreed. Gustavian “doesn’t win many races; he likes running second a lot,” Paddy Young said. “He loves this big, galloping track. He’s a great jumper. The thing I liked about him today is that he actually chased that horse when it passed him, which sometimes he doesn’t do. He stuck his head out at the right time today.”
Leslie Young and All Together’s jockey, Xavier Aizpuru agreed that the stumble was critical to the race’s outcome. “I think we benefitted a little when [All Together] stumbled on landing,” Leslie Young said. “Gustavian likes a fight at the finish, he likes to aim at something. He dueled throughout the stretch, and thank God his nose was longer [than All Together’s].”
Said Aizpuru: “If it wasn’t for the last jump, I think we would have won. He actually was very brave after the last fence, to keep battling away after losing so much momentum. You can’t help but feel like a mistake like that costs you when you get beaten by a head bob.”
At the start, Divine Fortune, owned by Bill Pape and Sheppard, went to the front immediately under Darren Nagle and stayed there through more than 2 1/4 miles. Part of an 8-5 entry with Italian Wedding, the 10-year-old had pressure throughout from Atlantic Equine’s Hunt Ball, also trained by Sheppard, but both tired approaching the final fence. Hunt Ball finished sixth, and Divine Fortune was seventh.
As the early leaders bore out approaching the final fence, Gustavian, All Together, and Italian Wedding made their moves. All Together, owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, jumped the fence in front, but the veteran stumbled badly on landing. Aizpuru kept the eight-year-old Danzig gelding on his feet, but they ceded the lead to Gustavian and three-time champion jockey Young.
All Together fought back valiantly. but Gustavian dug in and refused to surrender the advantage to the finish line. The victory propelled Gustavian into the middle of a hotly contested battle for this year’s Eclipse Award. The seven-year-old has not finished out of the money since winning his maiden victory nearly two years ago at Shawan Downs. The Lonesome Glory’s $90,000 first money raised his 2013 earnings to $104,000. Leslie Young said that Gustavian’s next start most likely would be the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Saturday, Oct. 19.
Italian Wedding, who had made a spectacular comeback after missing almost all of the 2012 racing season, finished 2 1/2 lengths clear of Demonstrative.
For the second straight year, the Lonesome Glory was decided by a nose. Mary Ann Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire, won last year’s edition by a nose over Spy in the Sky and went on to be the year’s Eclipse Award winner. In this year’s edition of the Lonesome Glory, Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky finished fifth, a neck behind Demonstrative.