Mary Ann Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire jumped to the lead before the final fence of Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1) and held off a determined late charge by Spy in the Sky to win by a nose on Thursday, Sept. 27. Charminster finished third in the kickoff race of American Steeplechasing’s fall championship season. Here’s how close it was..
The winner had two very strong connections to Lonesome Glory, the Racing Hall of Fame member and five-time Eclipse Award winner. He now is trained by Blythe Miller Davies, who rode Lonesome Glory for her father, Bruce Miller. The elder Miller previously trained Pierrot Lunaire and saddled him at Belmont for his daughter.
The Lonesome Glory’s fairy-tale story was all the more pronounced because eight-year-old Pierrot Lunaire was given little chance of winning the top-rated race and went off at 48.75-1, the longest price on the tote board. He paid $99.50 to win. His last previous victory was the Iroquois Stakes in 2009, when Pierrot Lunaire raced in the silks of Calvin Houghland, the owner’s late husband who was the longtime Iroquois Steeplechase chairman. In his start before the Lonesome Glory, Pierrot Lunaire had finished fifth in Colonial Downs’ David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) on June 2.
Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, trained by Jimmy Day, went off at 8.20-1 despite winning Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and finishing third in the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1).
Jockey Bernie Dalton placed Pierrot Lunaire in middle of the field as Duc de Savoie, Spy in the Sky’s stable mate, set the early pace, followed by the three members of leading owner Irvin S. Naylor’s entry, Tax Ruling, The Jigsaw Man, and Charminster.
Duc de Savoie faded late on the second circuit of Belmont’s inner turf course, as did The Jigsaw Man. Charminster began his move under Carl Rafter, and moving up on the inside was The Fields Stable’s Left Unsaid, ridden by Paddy Young. They appeared to be in strong position nearing the final fence, but Pierrot Lunaire exploded out of the field and jumped the final fence in front.
Spy in the Sky made his usual late move from the back of the field under Danielle Hodsdon, moved into third position at the final fence, and quickly cut into Pierrot Lunaire’s lead. They raced head to head through the final 50 yards, with Pierrot Lunaire getting the advantage on a head bob. Charminster ran on well to take third, two lengths behind the top two, and Left Unsaid was fourth, 2 1/2 lengths farther back. Pierrot Lunaire ran the Lonesome Glory’s 2 1/2 miles in 4:37.78 on firm turf.
Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy, easy winner of Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 16, went off as the Lonesome Glory’s 2-1 favorite and finished fifth under Xavier Aizpuru, substituting for Brian Crowley, who was injured in the previous race, the William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. New York Turf Writers Cup winner Demonstrative was scratched from the Lonesome Glory after his jockey, Robbie Walsh, also was injured in the Entenmann.
Hickory Tree Stable’s Gustavian, ridden by champion jockey Young, closed strongly through the stretch to win the Entenmann by a half-length over Alajmal. Forgotten Man finished third. Trained by Leslie Young, the winning jockey’s wife, Gustavian went off as the 1.35-1 favorite and ran the Entenmann’s 2 1/4 miles in 4:09.85 on firm ground.