Rosbrian Farm’s Optimus Prime and Clarcam, owned by Rosbrian and Wendy and Ben Griswold, will share the 158-pound highweight in Belmont Park’s $175,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), the first of two top-rated races on the National Steeplechase Association’s fall schedule.
Also on Belmont’s Thursday card is the $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, which will kick off the card with a 1:30 p.m. post time. The Lonesome Glory will be the second race at 2:04 p.m.
Optimus Prime, trained by Ricky Hendriks, pulled a modest surprise with a 1 1/4-length victory in Saratoga Race Course’s $175,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 23. The 2 1/2-mile Lonesome Glory adds a furlong to the New York Turf Writers distance.
Clarcam was unlucky in the New York Turf Writers, his first U.S. start for prominent Irish trainer Gordon Elliott. Close to the lead for more than 1 1/2 miles, Clarcam bobbled on landing after the third-from-last fence, and jockey Lisa O’Neill lost her left iron. She stayed aboard and righted Clarcam, but he had lost all chance at that point.
In his start before the New York Turf Writers, Clarcam had won the €250,000 thetote.com Galway Plate Steeplechase by six lengths at 33-to-1 odds after setting all the pace. In all, the French-bred eight-year-old has won more than $600,000 from 47 jumps starts.
Hendriks, who currently leads the National Steeplechase Association trainer standings by both wins and earnings, also will saddle Zanjabeel, who is owned by the Griswolds and Mandy and George Mahoney’s Rosbrian.
Winner of the year’s richest race to date, the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), five-year-old Zanjabeel will carry 156 pounds, next in the weights. He was previously trained by Elliott and won Far Hill’s Foxbrook Champion Hurdle last October.
Hendriks gave Zanjabeel a break over the summer to prepare for the Lonesome Glory and Far Hills’ $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) on Oct. 20.
Ross Geraghty, the regular jockey for both Optimus Prime and Zanjabeel, will remain on the New York Turf Writers winner, and Hendriks reached overseas to Jack Kennedy to ride Zanjabeel. The top Irish jockey was aboard Zanjabeel in the Foxbrook. Jack Doyle, currently atop the jockey standings by wins, picks up the mount on Clarcam.
Mark W. Buyck’s Show Court, who pulled a 14.10-to-1 surprise in winning Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 30, will be ridden by Michael Mitchell from the inside post position. Trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., Show Court finished fourth in the New York Turf Writers and carries 146 pounds in the handicap.
Barry Foley will be aboard Magalen O. Bryant’s homebred Personal Start for trainer Richard Valentine. Winner of the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) on May 5, Personal Start finished fourth in the Smithwick Memorial after setting the early pace.
Trainer Jack Fisher, rebounding from a slow spring season, will saddle Edith Dixon’s Schoodic and Harold A. “Sonny” Via’s Hinterland. Schoodic won last year’s Semmes and will be ridden by Willie McCarthy. Sean McDermott rides Hinterland, who finished second in the 2015 Lonesome Glory.
Completing the field is Greg Ryan’s Three Kingdoms, who won an Iroquois Steeplechase ratings handicap by a neck over Schoodic on May 12. Kieran Norris will ride Three Kingdoms for trainer Julie Gomena.
Here is the field for the $175,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap in post-position order. The horses’ handicap weights are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 3-1-0-0, $118,250. 2017 NSA record: 5-2-1-0, $112,000. Won Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) by a length, then was fourth in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished sixth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) after chasing winning pacesetter. Finished sixth in Saratoga’s 2017 New York Turf Writers Cup after winning Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths. (146)
Three Kingdoms (Ire). 2009 ch. g., Street Cry (Ire)—Chan Tong, by Hampstead. Owner: Colvin G. Ryan. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Darley (Ire). 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $21,000/ 2017 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $0. Won 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase rating handicap. In first U.S. start, finished 10th in 2017 New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1), then lost jockey in Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap. Unplaced in England and Ireland in 2016-2017 for then-trainer Dermot Weld. Finished fourth in 2016 Guinness Kerry National Steeplechase before unplaced finish in 2017 Naas Supporters Hurdle. (140)
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-0-1-1, $21,300. 2017 record: 5-1-0-0, $50,750. Just missed when second by a neck in 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase ratings handicap. Opened 2018 campaign with closing third in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), then was ninth in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won 2017 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup, then was a dull fifth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), a race he won in 2016. (142)
Zanjabeel (GB). 2013 b. g., Aussie Rules—Grain Only, by Machiavellian. Owners: Rosbrian Farm and Ben and Wendy Griswold. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Jack Kennedy. Breeder: Kirsten Rausing (GB). 2018 record: 3-1-2-0, $160,500. 2017 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $120,000. Won 2018 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) by five lengths after second-place finishes in 2018 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won Far Hills’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, his U.S. debut for former owners and trainer Gordon Elliott. For new owners, won Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle by 2 3/4 lengths. (156)
Optimus Prime (Fr). 2012 b. g., Deportivo—Diluvienne, by Kaldoun. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Haras de Plasence (Fr). 2018 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $105,000. In his U.S. debut, won Saratoga Race Course’s 2018 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). In final overseas start, finished fourth in Pertemps Swindon Hurdle Handicap at Haydock in May. Began 2018 with an allowance steeplechase win and then was second at 25-to-1 in €115,000 Ryanair Novice Steeplechase at Ireland’s Punchestown Racecourse in April. Previously trained by Dan Skelton. (158)
Clarcam (Fr). 2019 b. g., Califet (Fr)—Rose Beryl, by Lost World. Owner: Rosbrian Farm and Wendy and Ben Griswold. Trainer: Gordon Elliott. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Jean Michel & Dominique LeBreton. 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Lost all chance in 2018 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) when he stumbled at the third from last fence and his jockey lost an iron. In final overseas start, won €250,000 Galway Plate Steeplechase by six lengths at 33-to-1 odds. Unplaced in two previous 2018 starts, 11th in Guinness Handicap and in Randox Health Topham Steeplechase. Durable steeplechaser would be making his 49th career start and seeking his 11th win. (158)
Personal Start. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Jump Start—Personal Doreen, by Personal Flag. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Barry Foley. Breeder: Magalen O. Bryant (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-2-0-0, $98,750. 2017 record: 6-1-1-2, $46,750. Finished fourth in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won Virginia Gold Cup’s 2018 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) by eight lengths after victory in Carolina Cup novice stakes. Won 2017 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle by eight lengths. Finished third in 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then was second in Shawan Downs handicap and fourth in Virginia Fall’s Randolph D. Rouse Memorial Handicap. (144)
Hinterland (Fr). 2008 b. g., Poliglote (GB)—Queen’s Place, by Diamond Prospect. Owner: Harold A. “Sonny” Via Jr. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Eric Aubree and Christian Bresson (Fr). 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $9,500. 2017 record: 2-0-1-0, $36,000. Opened 2018 with fourth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), then finished sixth in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Finished distant second in 2017 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), then was seventh in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (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). (142)