The veteran mare Umpateedle, making the 52nd start of her career, outfought favored Smokey Glacken in an exciting stretch-long duel and eked out a nose victory in the $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at Belmont Park Sunday.
The 6-year-old daughter of Suave Prospect, dismissed at 10-1, pressed Smokey Glacken through splits of :22 4/5; :46 and 1:09 3/5 on the good main track before sticking her nose out at the wire to win the 6 1/2-furlong test in 1:16 1/5 on a "good" track. Both rivals carried 116 pounds.
With Aaron Gryder aboard, she paid $22.20, $6.50, and $3.30.
Smokey Glacken, the even-money choice in the field of five ridden by Javier Castellano, returned $3 and $2.10.
Travelator and Joe Bravo finished an even third and paid $3.10.
It was the 17th win of Umpateedle's career, and the $90,000 purse for owner Michael Gill swelled her career bankroll to $725,590. She won her second black-type race in a row, following her score in Delaware Park's Endine (gr. III) Sept. 10.
"I was worried that no one was going to go with Smokey Glacken," said trainer Mark Shuman. "I thought, if that horse got loose on an easy lead, we would be running for second money. At the top of the stretch, I said, `If we're going to do it, we can do it from here.' Our horse is going to be sold at Keeneland in the November sale. There is a good chance we could run her back in the First Flight in three weeks."
(Umptadeedle and Smokey Glacken are to sell with Taylor Made in November. Umptadeedle is offered at Keeneland Nov. 9 with TMSA acting as agent for the Dispersal of Michael Gill. Smokey Glacken is to sell at Fasig Tipton on Nov. 6.)
The $150,000 First Flight Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares at seven furlongs will be Oct. 30.
Gryder rode Umpateedle at Delaware Park last month and again in the Gallant Bloom.
"She didn't get the respect she deserves," Gryder said. "I came here with a lot of confidence. Her last race was very strong at Delaware. She's got a lot of natural speed. I've won three races on her now, and as long as I've just tucked her off the speed, she runs a lot better."
Although it was her first win at Belmont Park, it was Umpateedle's second win at four starts at the distance. By contrast, Smokey Glacken, a terror at six furlongs, has now lost all three of her 6 ½-furlong starts.
"She did the best she could," said Castellano of the favorite. "She went to the lead nice and easy. I wish the race was three-quarters. She really ran good."
It was two and a half lengths back to Travelator in third, followed by Bank Audit and second choice Sensibly Chic.