Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul, fresh after a four-month vacation, pulled a 17.60-to-1 surprise on Thursday when he set all the pace in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and galloped home to a 3 3/4-length victory.
With Ross Geraghty aboard, the Perfect Soul seven-year-old was never seriously challenged after the first 100 yards of the Lonesome Glory and ran the 2½-mile distance in 4:34.41 on firm turf. Bred in Ontario by Charles Fipke, Surprising Soul returned $37.20 on a $2 win bet.
Two veteran longshots, Harold A. “Sonny” Via’s Hinterland and Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, filled the pari-mutuel table. Hinterland, 43.25-to-1, made steady progress to finish second by 3 ¼ lengths over 48.25-to-1 All the Way Jose, who had won the 2017 edition of the Lonesome Glory and has been winless since.
All the Way Jose’s stablemate Winston C encountered some late traffic issues on the spacious Belmont course, toppled a beacon nearing the homestretch while in tight, and finished fourth as the 9-to-10 favorite.
Trained by Jonathan Sheppard, Winston C was odds-on after dominating Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1).
The year’s other Grade 1 winner Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer, showed little and finished fifth, a length behind Winston C, and Bruton Street-US’s Moscato was eighth in a nine-horse field.
Ricky Hendriks, who trains Surprising Soul for his mother, recorded his second straight Lonesome Glory win, after the victory of Rosbrian Farm’s eventual Eclipse Award winner Zanjabeel last year.
Surprising Soul’s victory warmed an extended cold spell for Hendriks, who was contending for the trainer championship late last year and was denied the title by a late surge by Jack Fisher, who trains Hinterland, Scorpiancer, and Moscato.
Geraghty, who was last year’s leading steeplechase jockey by purse earnings, had credited Hendriks with scaling back on Surprising Soul’s racing schedule. In 2017, Surprising Soul had won two early races and then tailed off at the end of a seven-race season.
Last year, Surprising Soul made three starts and won two stakes, Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) and Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes before a second in a division of the Far Hills Races’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Those three starts were worth $97,500 in purse earnings.
The Lonesome Glory was Surprising Soul’s third start of the year, following a fourth in the Carolina Cup in late March and a second to Scorpiancer, beaten a length, in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville on May 11.
Surprising Soul possesses sufficient speed to set the pace, and Geraghty took advantage of a field with little early lick to take a two-length advantage after All the Way Jose chose not to press him too closely.
The front-runner jumped well while Winston C occupied his usual spot at the back of the field. He lost some ground over the next-to-last fence and took an inside route on the final turn before bouncing off the beacon while inside Scorpiancer, losing some ground, and resuming his challenge.
By then, Surprising Soul had opened 4½ lengths at the furlong pole and had sealed a Grade 1 victory for owner Hendriks, who owns a working farm in eastern Pennsylvania. The $90,000 first-place purse increased Surprising Soul’s 2019 earnings to $119,500.