Irvin S. Naylor’s Via Galilei, making his first United States start, launched a powerful three-wide move through the stretch to score a half-length victory in the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3), the feature race of the 91st annual Middleburg Spring Races on Saturday, April 21.
Oakwood Stable’s Country Cousin finished second, and Mary Ann Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire was third, another three-quarters of a length back. Bill Pape’s Sermon of Love, who set the early pace, held fourth. Trained by J. W. Delozier and ridden by Ross Geraghty, Irish-bred Via Galilei ran the historic Temple Gwathmey’s 2 1/2 miles in 5:40.40 on firm ground at the Glenwood Park race course in Virginia’s hunt country.
Acquired by Naylor after competing at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Via Galilei marked himself as a horse to watch in the 2012 National Steeplechase Association season. The Gwathmey was his first stakes victory; he had finished second in three handicaps last year, including the Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown in March.