With a determined late move under Sean McDermott, Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer surged to a 2 1/4-length victory in Thursday’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park.
Irv Naylor’s Jamarjo, who moved before Scorpiancer, took second money, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Naylor’s Charminster, the leader at the top of Belmont’s long stretch. Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile, making his first U.S. start, finished fourth, three-quarters of a length farther back, in a field of eight.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Scorpiancer went off as the Lonesome Glory’s 7-to-10 favorite and looked the part of an odds-on favorite as he moved strongly through the final sixteenth-mile to claim his first victory of the year. He previously had finished second in Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and third in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1).
The Irish-bred seven-year-old carried the Lonesome Glory’s 154-pound highweight and paid $3.40 to win after running the 2 ½-mile distance in 4:46.69 on firm turf.
Armata Stables’ Rudyard K went to the lead at the start in company with Awesome Pearl and Charminster, while McDermott tucked Scorpiancer at the back of the field. Charminster, ridden by Carol-Ann Sloan, assumed the lead entering the backstretch the last time and was clear of the field when Rudyard K fell at the last of 10 fences.
Jamarjo, ridden by Paddy Young, drew into contention on the final turn and battled with Charminster into the stretch. Swansea Mile also made a move in the final furlong, but Scorpiancer was finding his best stride approaching the sixteenth pole and glided to the lead under McDermott’s pressure.
Fisher said Scorpiancer now would be pointed toward the $350,000 Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 15.
McDermott, who rides regularly for Fisher, paid tribute to Connor Hankin, who had ridden Scorpiancer in all of his previous U.S. races. Hankin reported for duty in the U.S. Marine Corps on Sept. 10. “I’m merely the super-sub who picked up the pieces,” he said.
The veteran Irish-born jockey was pleased with Scorpiancer’s performance and especially over the five-furlong run from the last fence to the finish. Scorpiancer is “more of a stamina horse than a speed horse. But I have no hesitation riding him closer to the front the next time now that I know a little bit more about him,” he said.