Jumping to Belmont

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Some races look like the local bar on Friday night. Same faces, same arguments. Pull up the stools for Thursday’s Lonesome Glory at Belmont Park and start where you left off.

Italian Wedding, All Together, Demonstrative, Divine Fortune, Spy In The Sky and Hunt Ball exit the New York Turf Writers Cup. The Grey Express, Gustavian, Black Quartz and Molotof raise their glasses and try to knock off the Saratoga warriors in the $150,000 stakes.

Jonathan Sheppard ran four of the nine starters in the Turf Writers. The Hall of Famer runs three of the 10  in the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory. All three ran in the Turf Writers.

Homebred Italian Wedding earned $108,000 in two starts at Saratoga. Bernie Dalton climbed aboard the 8-year-old son of Alphabet Soup to finish second in the Smithwick and win the Turf Writers. The veteran jockey returns for the third time in the Lonesome Glory. Italian Wedding managed to find the perfect spot in the Turf Writers, splitting the difference between the pacesetters and the closers before rallying away from Lonesome Glory starter All Together and upstart stablemate Martini Brother.

Divine Fortune and jockey Darren Nagle reunite for the Lonesome Glory. The duo have teamed up to finish second in the Grand National, two Colonial Cups and two runnings of the 3-mile Iroquois. Divine Fortune failed to threaten in the Turf Writers, finishing seventh, 16 lengths behind Italian Wedding. The 10-year-old veteran could appreciate the more expansive configuration at Belmont Park.

Hunt Ball flopped in his two tries at Saratoga after being imported from England. The eight-time winner never looked comfortable in the A.P. Smithwick or Turf Writers, finishing sixth in the former and eighth in the latter. Sheppard adds Lasix for the first time. Ross Geraghty has the return call.

Demonstrative missed a flat prep earlier in the summer and missed the Smithwick with a cough, before finally making it to the starter’s flag in the Turf Writers. The Eclipse Award runner-up in 2012, relaxed in sixth but retreated when the running started. He steadied leaving the backside but was not firing his best shot at the time. Demonstrative spent most of the season at Saratoga, Valentine shipped the 6-year-old home to Virginia and reloaded for the Lonesome Glory.

“I’m mad at myself, I should have shipped him home instead of keeping him at Saratoga after he missed the Smithwick. He did well at home last year and I feel like I didn’t do enough with him up there. He pulled a shoe, he bled and he was short for the Turf Writers. I should have taken him home and worked him up our gallop, I didn’t have him fit enough, I’ll take the blame for that,” Valentine said. “It took him a while to bounce back, but I think he’s good now. His last piece of work here was back to his old self. I rode him Tuesday morning and I usually can’t hold him, he was dragging me again. Of course I’m worried, but he’s as good as we can have him with the ground we’ve been dealt with now.”

An eight-time winner over hurdles for over $420,000, Demonstrative won the Iroquois in his start before the Turf Writers.

Leslie and Paddy Young opted to skip Saratoga with Gustavian. The three-time winner won the Entenmann last year and finished third in the Temple Gwathmey and second in the National Hunt Cup this spring. The 7-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway makes his first start for Maggie Bryant.

Jeffords winner The Grey Express, Turf Writers’ runner-up All Together, novice stakes winner Black Quartz, 2012 Lonesome Glory runner-up Spy In The Sky and Iroquois-third Molotof complete the tough field.

– The William Entenmann Memorial kicks off the card. Eleven novices line up for the $75,000 stakes. Sheppard coddles two additional fastballs for the opener. Bill Pape’s entry Powerofone and Martini Brother will try to add to Sheppard’s lead at the top of the trainers’ standings.

Martini Brother leads all first-year hurdlers with $93,000 earned in 2013. The 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy ripped through a maiden, allowance and the Jonathan Kiser before rallying to finish third in the Turf Writers Cup Aug. 22. Darren Nagle, who’s ridden the bay gelding in his four starts this year, returns.

Powerofone, another son of A.P. Indy, was creeping into contention in the Walsh at Saratoga when he fell at the ninth hurdle. The 4-year-old won his first two starts to begin the year before pulling up in the Frost at Nashville and falling at Saratoga. Ross Geraghty climbs aboard for the first time.

The entry is a worthy 7-5 morning line favorite and should be on every Pick Five ticket to start the bet at Belmont.

Clorevia Farm counters the Pape entry with a solid pair. Dr. Skip suffered his first hurdle defeat when finishing fifth in the Kiser. Trainer Eddie Graham regrouped and freshened the 5-year-old son of Eddington. He makes his first start in nearly two months. Regular pilot Jody Petty returns.

“We got caught on the outside at Saratoga, most of the time a race spreads out but it never did, he was outside and never settled,” Graham said. “I knew when we were in front on the backside, we were in trouble, after being unsettled. Hopefully being on the inside at Belmont will help get him covered up and get him settled.”

Graham didn’t consider returning to Saratoga for another crack in the Walsh.

“No matter what I wasn’t going to run him back in the second novice at Saratoga. I gave him two and a half weeks off and brought him back, he looks well, refreshed a little bit,” Graham said. “Hopefully we are in good shape after the time off, but at the end of the day, it’s racing, you never know.”

Extraextraordinary bolsters Clorevia’s chances for trainer Doug Fout and jockey Willie McCarthy. The 6-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway hit the board in both attempts at Saratoga, finishing third behind Martini Brother in the Kiser and third behind Barnstorming in the Walsh.

Owner/trainer Kate Dalton returns Cat Feathers to open company. The 5-year-old New York-bred mare finished second after lacking room on the final turn in the Jeffords at Saratoga. Her vanquisher that day, The Grey Express, takes on open company in the Lonesome Glory. Earlier in the summer, Cat Feathers finished third behind Inti and Complete Zen in the Ferguson at Colonial Downs.

Dalton and husband/jockey Bernie, prolonged the Saratoga season, relocating to Tom Voss’ stalls at the Annex while counting the days to the Entenmann.

“She’s doing well, she seems to really like it up here. We seem to do well here so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope New York likes us as much we like New York,” Dalton said. “This wasn’t the goal, but she came out of her last race so well it was like, ‘Why not?’ Everything fell into place, there was no good reason not to give it a try, it’s three weeks.”

The Daltons plan to depart Saratoga at 3 o’clock Thursday morning, run at Belmont Thursday afternoon, before heading back to their winter base in Camden, S.C.

– As for the ST Handicappers, we have crawled out of our Saratoga engine room and anxiously look forward to picking winners this fall. The standings, evidently, go something like this – Joe continues to roll on the lead with 30 wins and Tom and Sean are tied with 25. There won’t be much jostling for position this week.

The Picks:

First Race:

  • Joe: Martini Brother, Dr. Skip, Bodie Island
  • Sean: Martini Brother, Dr. Skip, Powerofone.
  • Tom: Martini Brother, Staying On, Bodie Island.


Second Race:

  • Joe: Demonstrative, Italian Wedding, Gustavian.
  • Sean: Demonstrative, Gustavian, Italian Wedding.
  • Tom: All Together, Italian Wedding, Demonstrative.


Watch The Turf Writers Cup here.

See Tod Marks Belmont preview photos here.

Check out Joe’s Closer Looks at Daily Racing Form website here