HANDICAPPING THE LONESOME GLORY
There's still a few more chance to have your opinion rewarded before the fall hunt meet season gets in full swing. Sunday the circuit heads to Belmont for the third annual Lonesome Glory Steeplchase. A deep and contentious field is lined up and the winner will have a big leg up on year-end honors. Let's take a closer look.
The Grade I, $150,000 Lonesome Glory Steeplcahse at 2 1/2 miles.
Mixed Up: We all know the on again off again saga of the Turf Writers by now so rather than rehash it it's best to ask yourself a few important questions. First off, can he rebound off of that 50-length drubbing and beat a solid field over a distance that might be beyond his scope at the age of 10? And second, as good as he's been at the flat track he's never met the cameraman in a pair of Belmont outs. The good news is he drops some weight from the Turf Writers and the shift is much better as well. The bad news is you're going to have to take underlaid odds to see if he's ready to rebound over a course and distance that might not be his best even during his prime. Mixed signals, but it's foolish to discount his chances with Sheppard calling the shots.
Arcadius: The second of three from Sheppard quietly had a nice summer at Saratoga and has come a long way after a few brutal runs to start his U.S. hurdle career. This no doubt rates as the toughest assignment of his career but he gets in light (138) and deserves the chance. And we all know Sheppard built a Hall of Fame resume patenting this type of move. Not at the top of the list but crazier things have happened.
Pierrot Lunaire: Shocked the steeplechase world when he drilled two-time champ Good Night Shirt in a boggy renewal of the Iroquois. The performance was impressive enough on the face of it, but dig a bit deeper and you'll find out he changed barns and traveled about 5,000 miles in five days just to get to Nashville. That's heady stuff folks. Miller passed on the Spa and aimed here in an effort to embark on the right path to a championship. Obviously if he runs back to the Iroquois the rest are running for second money, but a firm course going 2 1/2 miles at Belmont is a lot different than a soupy, undulating one going 3 miles at Percy Warner. Couple that with the fact that this is far from the major goal and I'm willing to make him beat me.
Red Letter Day: Ran a big third in this race last year and followed it up with a fine fourth in the Grand National, both behind Good Night Shirt, but he just hasn't progressed the way you would have thought this year. And it's not like he's lost his speed or anything, so you kind of just have to scratch you're head and wonder. Not expecting the turnaround to start today.
Spy In The Sky: Shocked everyone when he drew off over a few of these in the Turf Writers under a feathery weight assignment (where have we heard that before?). Picks up 12 pounds today and goes from the hunter to the hunted and you just have to wonder if that Spa run was just a fluky Turf Writers at the end of a long, hot summer. At least you're going to get another solid price if you're a believer (8-1?). And heck, maybe we shouldn't over think things and view him as a horse getting good at the right time who gets to face much of the same cast he just laughed at a few weeks back? Just maybe.
Tax Ruling: On his day he has the speed to be a dangerous customer, as his tour de force in the Hunt Cup showed earlier this spring. Comeback at the Spa wasn't terrible, but he does need to step it up if he wants to hear Tom Durkin call his name late. Figures to take this field as far as he can on the engine, but there will be more than one keeping him in their sights early. Theft is clearly on the agenda; just not sure it will be on his resume after 2 1/2 miles.
Isti Bee: Blinkers go on the Gwathmey winner but note they were on in his training flat win at Colonial, where he passed horses late to get the win. So don't necessarily think just because the hood is added he'll be motivated early. And though he wired the Gwathmey that was more by default than him wanting to be on the lead. Probably looking to settle into a nice stalking trip and make a run on the far turn and though his class is still a question he does catch several of the field's main contenders at the right time. Not impossible, and a tad bit interesting, but demand value.
Sermon Of Love: Looking back, I think we all got a little carried away on him in the Turf Writers, when he went off at 2-1. And though he ran well it was kind of the under the 'someone had to run second' pretense. Still, he was a month clear of third and showed he's still going the right way after winning just 1-of-17 to start his hurdle career. Sheppard's third runner once again gets in light (138) and this is the same package he carried when running second to Good Night Shirt in this very race last year. Enters full of confidence and improving with each start so he gets the call for the win, though don't expect the proper value as he's couple with Pierrot Lunaire.
Dynaski: The bloom came off the rose a bit in the Fout. Sure, he ran a fine second, but if you look in the mirror and be honest you know that's a field he was supposed to handle with relative ease. Nice to see Voss forge on and pick this tough spot for 6-year-old's first start outside the restricted ranks and this is the third start after almost a year on the sidelines, so maybe a career best run is forthcoming. Another who will benefit from a light impost (142) and has done little wrong from six career hurdle starts (6-3-3-0), but I'd be lying if I said that last run didn't leave a bad taste in my mouth.
by Brian Nadeau
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