Leading contenders for this year’s steeplechase championship will meet Thursday, Sept. 19, in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). The 2 1/2-mile race over National Fences attracted a strong field of 10 entries.
The first of three Grade 1 races on the National Steeplechase Association’s fall calendar, preceding the Grand National (Gr. 1) and Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), the Lonesome Glory will establish the front-runners in a highly competitive season in steeplechasing’s championship division.
Carrying the Lonesome Glory’s 156-pound highweight will be Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, last year’s Eclipse Award runner-up who kicked off the 2013 season with a one-length victory in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville on May 11.
A minor cough led trainer Richard Valentine to scratch him from Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 1, and three weeks later he ran an uncharacteristically lackluster race in the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), finishing sixth. Robbie Walsh will ride.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, recently announced as the F. Ambrose Clark Award recipient for his contributions to steeplechasing, will play a strong hand with his Italian Wedding and Divine Fortune, owned in partnership with Bill Pape.
Italian Wedding, who missed most of the 2012 season, is currently the hottest horse in Sheppard’s strong stable. He ran a strong second in the A. P. Smithwick and then came back for a one-length victory in the New York Turf Writers. Second in the weights at 150 pounds, Italian Wedding will again be ridden by Bernie Dalton.
Divine Fortune will carry 148 pounds, third in NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo Jr.’s handicap. The 10-year-old Royal Anthem gelding finished second in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois, took third in the A. P. Smithwick, and tired to finish seventh in the New York Turf Writers. Darren Nagle rides Divine Fortune, who will be coupled in the wagering with Italian Wedding.
Sheppard also will saddle Atlantic Equine’s Hunt Ball, who finished eighth in the New York Turf Writers. Reigning champion jockey Ross Geraghty has the mount.
Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, denied a victory in last year’s Lonesome Glory by a nose, finished fourth in the A. P. Smithwick and fifth in the New York Turf Writers. Trainer Jimmy Day named former champion jockey Danielle Hodsdon will ride Spy in the Sky, who carries 146 pounds.
Also weighted at 146 are Hunt Ball and Mary Ann Houghland’s Molotof. Imported earlier this year with the Calvin Houghland Iroquois as his target, Molotof ran third in the race named for his owner’s late husband. Trainer Blythe Miller Davies, who won last year’s Lonesome Glory with Mrs. Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire, named Willie McCarthy to ride.
Pierrot Lunaire’s victories in the Lonesome Glory and the Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., propelled him to last year’s Eclipse Award. Nominated to this year’s Lonesome Glory, he is regarded as a probable starter in the $250,00 Grand National on Oct. 19.
Gustavian, making his first start for new owner Magalen O. Bryant, will carry 144 pounds. He ran second in Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on May 18. Trainer Leslie Young named her husband, three-time champion jockey Paddy Young, to ride.
Leading owner Irv Naylor will be represented by Black Quartz, who most recently finished fifth in Saratoga’s $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 15. The French-bred, trained by William Dowling, will carry 142 pounds and will be ridden by Carol-Ann Sloan.
Jack Fisher, 2012’s champion trainer, will saddle All Together, who scored his first victory in two years for a $30,000 claiming tag at Saratoga on Aug. 1 and then ran a strong second in the New York Turf Writers. Owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, All Together was weighted at 140 pounds and will have Xavier Aizpuru in the saddle.
Gregory Hawkins’ The Grey Express, winner of Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes for fillies and mares on Aug. 29, carries 135 pounds, and Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot named Richard Boucher to ride.
Also on the Belmont program will be the $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at 2 1/4 miles. Topping a competitive field will be Pape’s Martini Brother, winner of Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes and a closing third in the New York Turf Writers.
Here are the Lonesome Glory entries in the order of their weight assignments:
Demonstrative. (156) 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2013 record: 2-1-0-0, $94,500. 2012 record: 6-3-0-0, $209,000. 2011 record: 8-2-4-2, $96,300. Surged to a neck victory in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), his first 2013 start. Missed Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick (Gr. 1) with a mild respiratory problem and finished a lackluster sixth in Saratoga’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), a race he won in 2012. Also won 2012’s $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) in Camden, S.C., and was Eclipse Award runner-up. Was 2010 three-year-old champion.
Italian Wedding. (150) 2005 b. g., Alphabet Soup–Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2013 record: 2-1-1-0, $108,000. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,500. 2011 record: 6-1-0-0, $55,200. Notched a one-length score in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22. Finished a good second in Saratoga’s $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 1 in his first start since fourth-place finish in the 2012 Carolina Cup. Won 2011 Michael G. Walsh Novice at Saratoga.
Divine Fortune. (148) 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owners: William Pape and Jonathan Sheppard. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2013 record: 4-1-1-1, $52,000. 2012 record: 7-1-3-0, $113,500. 2011 record: 4-1-1-0, $64,000. Attended early pace in the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22 and faded to finish seventh. Lacked closing punch in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and finished third. Finished a game second in $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 11. Cruised to a convincing victory in the Sandhills Cup in North Carolina on April 6.
Hunt Ball (Ire). (146) 2005 b. g., Winged Love (Ire)—La Fandango (Ire), by Taufan. Owner: Atlantic Equine. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2013 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $3,000. In U.S. debut, finished sixth in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial on Aug. 1, then was eighth in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Veteran British steeplechaser won Taunton handicap in April. Also won at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival.
Molotof (Fr). (146) 2007 gr. g., Smadoun—Memorial, by Homme de Loi. Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $15,000. In U.S. debut, finished third in $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 11. Won 32red Casino Steeplechase Handicap at Warwick in February and was third in an Ascot steeplechase allowance before U.S. debut.
Spy in the Sky. (146) 2004 ch. g., Thunder Gulch—Monaassabaat, by Zilzal. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2013 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $11,000. 2012 record: 6-1-1-1, $111,250. 2011 record: 6-0-0-3, $12,000. Finished fifth in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22 after fourth in $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 1. Finished seventh in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup in seasonal debut on May 18. Upset 2012 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 25-1, ran third in the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), and was nipped at the wire in the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park.
Gustavian. (144) 2006 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Mossflower, by Affirmed. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2013 record: 2-0-1-1, $14,000. 2012 record: 5-1-4-0, $70,500. 2011 record: 5-2-2-0, $33,800. Game second in Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on May 18 after third in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) on April 20. Won Belmont Park’s 2012 William Entenmann Memorial as 1.35-1 favorite. Never finished worse than second in 2012.
Black Quartz (Fr). (142) 2007 b. g., Danehill Dancer—Mirina, by Pursuit of Love. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. 2013 record: 4-1-1-0, $48,000. 2012 record: 5-2-0-0, $27,000. 2011 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $2,500. Faded late to finish fifth in Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 15. Finished second in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes on May 11 before weakening to finish sixth in the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on June 8. Won $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase by 2 3/4 lengths in first 2013 start.
All Together. (140) 2005 b. g., Danzig–Unify, by Farma Way. Owners: Andre W. Brewster and Sheila J. Williams. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Xavier Aizpuru. 2013 record: 4-1-1-0, $66,500. 2012 record: 6-0-0-3, $29,000. 2011 record: 7-1-3-2, $85,800. Ran strong second in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22. Won for the first time in two years in Saratoga optional allowance claimer on Aug. 1, when he ran for a $30,000 tag. Set pace in 2012 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) and finished fifth after third in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Novice champion in 2010.
The Grey Express. (135) 2005 gr. or ro. m., King’s Theater (Ire)—Poppet (GB), by Trempolino. Owner: Gregory Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Richard Boucher. 2013 record: 4-1-1-1, $61,500. 2012 NSA record: No starts. Stylish winner of Saratoga Race Course’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes for fillies and mares on Aug. 29 after second in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps. Tired and was pulled up in Iroquois’ Margaret Currey Henley on May 11. Finished third in the Georgia Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase on April 13.