Red Letter Day gets Glory

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Longshot Red Letter Day made the most of a slow pace and led from start to finish in Sunday’s Grade I Lonesome Glory at Bemont Park.

Owned by Greg Hawkins and trained by newly minted Hall of Famer Janet Elliot, Red Letter Day (Bernie Dalton) took the field to the first fence at a canter and made it stand up. Jockey Bernie Dalton gave the 6-year-old a breather on the final run down the long Belmont backstretch and Red Letter Day responded when challenged on the final turn. Mixed Up stuck a head in front before the stretch, Dyanski, loomed in behind horses, Isti Bee and Spy In The Sky ranged into the picture on the outside.

Red Letter Day made sure none of it mattered with two huge leaps over the final two fences and plenty of energy late. The son of Red Ransom scored by three-quarters of a length over favorite Dynaski (Xavier Aizpuru) with Arcadius (Robbie Walsh) third in 4:47.60 for the 2 1/2 miles over 12 fences. The winner paid $44.60 while collecting his first stakes win and third jump win from 14 starts. Mixed Up faded to last in the field of seven. Iroquois winner Pierrot Lunaire and Tax Ruling were scratched from the field.

Bred in Kentucky by Dr. John Chandler, Red Letter Day was third after leading most of the way in last year’s Lonesome Glory (while pressed by eventual winner Good Night Shirt) and started 2009 with a fifth at Great Meadow in May and a sixth behind Dynaski and Arcadius at Saratoga Aug. 13. Elliot passed on running at Saratoga the final week, and aimed for Belmont. 

"I didn’t think the pace was fast enough and I wanted him to stretch them out a bit, so it shows you what I know," Elliot said. "Bernie rode him really well, I’m glad I didn’t go to Saratoga for that other race and he really wants that distance of ground."

 See Tod Marks’ photo gallery from Belmont by clicking on the button at left.