(from Belmont Park release)
Good Night Shirt, tracing his own hoofprints that lead to a championship season in 2007, returned to Belmont Park on Sept. 21 and successfully defended his title as the heavy favorite in the second running of the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Steeplechase (NSA-I) at 2 1/2 miles over national fences.
Last year, he followed his Lonesome Glory victory with a fourth in the Grand National (NSA-I) at Far Hill, N.J., but then won the Colonial Cup (NSA-I) at Camden, S.C. to earn the Eclipse as 2007’s top steeplechase horse.
This year, Harold A. Via Jr.’s 7-year-old Concern gelding won the Georgia Cup (NSA-I) and Iroquois (NSA-I) and made the Lonesome Glory his fourth straight grade I victory. And this was despite a four-month layoff and spotting his rivals from four to 20 pounds as the 158-pound high weight.
“Any idiot could train him,” said trainer Jack Fisher, who won the Monmouth County Hunt Novice Sept. 20 at Monmouth Park with Sheila Williams’ Seer. “He does everything right. Today he was giving away 20 pounds to just about everybody. Big Brown can’t do that. It’s a lot of weight. But he’s such a classy horse. I’ve been riding and working him to get him used to it – I’m 155 pounds, so with the tack and everything it’s about 170 pounds. His works have been lackadaisical but you find that in older horses.”
Good Night Shirt settled nicely after the start to track longshot Red Letter Day and used his smooth, huge stride to maintain position. In the lane for the final time, he again jumped well with jockey William Dowling and went on to an easy 3 3/4-length victory in 4:24.88.
“He normally goes out to the front but with five months off we decided not to be the lead horse, with all that weight,” Dowling said. “He kind of took off and dove at the first fence, and I was able to get him back. He’s an impressive horse. I’ve waited a lifetime for that.”
Good Night Shirt, who won for the ninth time in 19 jump races, increased his career earnings to $730,563. All but $34,590 of that total has come from steeplechase events. He paid $2.80 to win.
Out of the Two Punch mare Hot Story, the winner was bred in Maryland by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Bowman.
Sermon of Love got up late to neck Red Letter Day for the place. It was another neck back to Duke of Earl (IRE). Dark Equation, Dalucci (IRE), Best Attack and Mon Villez (FR) trailed.