Red Letter Day wires Lonesome Glory
Gregory D. Hawkins' RED LETTER DAY (Red Ransom) led throughout to spring a 21-1 upset in Sunday's $157,600 Lonesome Glory Hurdle S. (NSA-G1) at Belmont Park. Trained by Hall of Famer Janet Elliot and ridden by Bernard Dalton, the six-year-old gelding held off the late charge from 6-5 favorite Dynaski (Dynaformer) to record his first stakes win.
Red Letter Day, who finished third in last year's Lonesome Glory, went straight to the front at the drop of the flag, and put in two big efforts over the final two fences to score by three-quarters of a length. The final time for the 2 1/2-mile contest was 4:47 3/5 on the firm turf, and Red Letter Day returned $44.60, $14.80 and $7.30.
Dalton commented on last year's encouraging precedent.
"He ran great here last year (going to the lead), finished third, a neck short," Dalton noted. "Janet just said to me 'Do whatever you want, but whatever you do, try and get a breather into him.'
"I asked for two big ones over the second-to-last and last jumps, and he gave them to me," the jockey said. "They were going to have to come hard and fast to get him."
"The hardest part is getting races long enough for him," Elliot said. "I knew this race was coming up, and he had run well in it last year -- he was second until the final sixteenth.
"He's been training well into this," Elliot added. "I got on him a few times myself this week, and he ran a great race. I'm so proud of him."
Dynaski, who had been first or second in six previous starts over fences, was 1 1/2 lengths in front of Arcadius (Giant's Causeway) in third. Completing the order of finish were Spy in the Sky (Thunder Gulch), Isti Bee (NZ) (Istidaad), Sermon of Love (Pulpit) and Mixed Up (Carnivalay).
Iroquois Hurdle (NSA-G1) hero Pierrot Lunaire (War Chant) and Tax Ruling (Dynaformer) were scratched.
With this first stakes score to his credit, Red Letter Day improved his mark to 24-3-2-1. The winner's purse of $94,560 nearly doubled his earnings to $200,780. He broke his maiden at Charlotte in 2007. Last year, in addition to his Lonesome Glory placing, he finished second in the Carolina Cup Hurdle and won an optional claimer over fences at Philadelphia Park.
Bred by Dr. John A. Chandler in Kentucky, Red Letter Day is a full brother to Grade 3 victress Western Ransom. They are out of the winning Gone West mare Western Wind, who is a full sister to English Group 2 hero Raah Algharb and a half-sister to English Group 3 queen Pharian (Diesis [GB]). This is the family of multiple Grade 1 turf stars Cetewayo (His Majesty) and Dynaforce (Dynaformer).
On the New York worktab
Reigning champion female sprinter INDIAN BLESSING (Indian Charlie), second in the Ballerina S. (G1) last out, exercised five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 over the fast main track at Belmont Park on Sunday. The Bob Baffert-conditioned four-year-old is preparing for Saturday's Gallant Bloom H. (G2).
"Last week was her big work (going five furlongs in :58.14 on Monday), but she went beautifully this morning," said Tonja Terranova, New York assistant to Baffert. "She's been training great and doing amazing."
Grade 1 winner QUALITY ROAD (Elusive Quality), third in the Travers S. (G1) most recently, traveled five panels in 1:01. The Todd Pletcher charge is gearing up for the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) on October 3.
"You would think with having a mile and a quarter race under his belt that it would be beneficial to the next one," Pletcher said. "He was ready for the Travers. Given different circumstances and a different surface, we might have done better, but it wasn't meant to be."
Multiple Grade 2 king MUNNINGS (Speightstown), third in the Haskell Invitational (G1) and King's Bishop S. (G1) in his last two, breezed five-eighths in 1:01. His next outing is likely the October 3 Vosburgh S. (G1).
Group 1 heroine CAPTAIN'S LOVER (SAf) (Captain Al), a seven-length winner of the off-the-turf Matchmaker S. two back, logged five-eighths in 1:01.
Grade 2 victress MY PRINCESS JESS (Stormy Atlantic), most recently third by a half-length in the Ballston Spa H. (G2), breezed a half-mile in :49 1/5.
Dual stakes winner PRINCE JOSHUA (First Tour), third in the Carry Back S. (G2), breezed three furlongs in :38 on Belmont's fast dirt training track.
Secretariat S. (G1) king TAKE THE POINTS (Even the Score) breezed four furlongs in :50 2/5 over the fast Oklahoma dirt training track at Saratoga. The Pletcher trainee is headed for Belmont's Jamaica H. (G1) on October 10.
Strub S. (G2) winner COWBOY CAL (Giant's Causeway), second in the Bernard Baruch H. (G2) last out, logged a half-mile in :49 4/5.
Multiple Grade 1-placed READY'S ECHO (More Than Ready), third in the Forego S. (G1) most recently, posted four panels in :50.
Hopeful S. (G1) third AIKENITE (Yes It's True) went five furlongs in 1:02 4/5.
Grade 2-placed BLUEGRASS PRINCESS (Dynaformer), runner-up in the John Hettinger S. two back, breezed four furlongs in :49 2/5.
Grade 1 hero COURT VISION (Gulch), sixth in the United Nations (G1) most recently, logged five-eighths in 1:02 on Aqueduct's firm turf. Now with Richard Dutrow, the turf performer could reappear in the October 4 Kelso H. (G2).
Boiling Springs S. (G3) queen MARY'S FOLLIES (More Than Ready), runner-up in the Lake George S. (G3) last out, traveled five grassy furlongs in 1:04.
Grade 2 winner ANAK NAKAL (Victory Gallop), unraced since an off-the-board run in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 on Aqueduct's fast dirt.
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