The race to become champion steeplechaser of 2012 is about to reach its final fences as Belmont Park hosts the Grade 1, $150,000 Lonesome Glory on Thursday.
The 2 1/2-mile test is the first in a trio of top-level hurdles over the next two months which often determines the division's Eclipse Award recipient. The Lonesome Glory serves as a prelude to the Grade 1 Grand National at Far Hills, New Jersey, on October 20, and the Grade 1 Colonial Cup at Camden, South Carolina, on November 17.
The top three finishers from last month's Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga -- Demonstrative, Charminster and Spy in the Sky -- will renew acquaintance in the Lonesome Glory. Demonstrative, whose previous best came in novice stakes, rallied from slightly off the pace to capture the Turf Writers Cup by a length over Charminster, who was making his U.S. debut for noted jumps owner Irv Naylor. Farther back was Spy in the Sky, who had previously captured the Grade 2 A.P. Smithwick Memorial in a photo finish.
Among the familiar faces in the Lonesome Glory lineup are Tax Ruling and Divine Fortune. An Eclipse Award finalist last year after wins in the Colonial Cup and Grade 1 Iroquois, front-running Tax Ruling has gone unplaced in both starts this term. Fourth when trying to win the Iroquois for an unprecedented third straight year, Tax Ruling next retreated to eighth in the Smithwick after running out of gas at the top of the stretch.
Divine Fortune, a two-time winner of the Smithwick, ran second in the Iroquois this past May, but didn't fare quite as well during the Saratoga meet. Fifth in his three-peat attempt in the Smithwick, the nine-year-old wound up falling at the 10th fence in the Turf Writers Cup after taking a brief lead.
Another hoping to rebound from a fall in the Turf Writers Cup is Left Unsaid, that race's 1-2 favorite who had just missed catching Spy in the Sky in the August 2 Smithwick. The ultra-consistent Tom Voss-trainee might vie for favoritism in this spot.
Others of note in Thursday's feature are Grade 1 veteran Pierrot Lunaire; Smithwick third-placer All Together; History Boy, a dominating winner over novice stakes company at Saratoga last out; and the Naylor-owned The Jigsaw Man, seventh in the Turf Writers Cup in his U.S. debut.
Kicking off the Daily Double on Thursday is the $50,000 William Entenmann Memorial, a restricted 2 1/4-mile hurdle.