Buttonwood Farm's All the Way Jose won the G1, $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes at Belmont on Sept. 21, throwing the already muddled race to the Eclipse Award wide open.
Trained by Jonathan Sheppard and ridden in the Lonesome Glory by Darren Nagle, All the Way Jose, who was also bred by Sheppard, now has one win and one third in G1 races, as does Flying Elvis Stale's Diplomat, trained by Kate Dalton and ridden by Bernie Dalton, who won the $150,000 New York Turf Writers and was third in the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick, both at Saratoga.
Rosbrian Farm's Swansea Mile, trained by Ricky Hendriks and ridden by Michael Mitchell, won the Smithwick, was third in the Lonesome Glory and fifth in the Turf Writers, while Modem has been third in all three of those G1 races.
Scorpiancer, who won the only other G1 held so far this year, the $200,000 Iroquois last May, was hurt and hasn't run since.
With only one G1 remaining, now that the Colonial Cup has moved to the spring, everything comes down to the Grand National at Far Hills in New Jersey on Oct. 21.
"Winning the Lonesome Glory was great," said Sheppard."It was a nice shot in the arm for the whole barn. We've been through a tough time, with losing a couple of our big owners."
"First it was George Strawbridge, then Mrs. Pape took her three nice flat horses out a couple of months ago," said Sheppard. "I still have four horses for Bill (Pape, who has partered with Sheppard for years in steeplechase horses).
"And another big owner, Mr. Bill Backer passed away," said Sheppard. "He had a big farm in Virginia, and he was the head of the Virginia Breeders Association."
"So now everything comes down to the Grand National, now that the Colonial Cup has moved to the spring," said Sheppard.
"I HAD high hopes for Jose," said Sheppard. "He showed quite a bit of promise as a 4-year-old. He was the Champion Novice Horse that year."
In 2014, after winning a maiden special weight over fences at Parx, Jose won an allowance at Saratoga, was second in the William Entenmann Stakes at Belmont and won the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills.
"His 5- and 6-year-old years were disappointing, but then we found he had a respiratory problem," said Sheppard.
That problem was corrected, and Jose began to win again.
Keri Brion, Sheppard's assistant trainer, rode him in the spring, finishing third in a handicap at Tryon on April 15, then second in a handicap at Percy Warner on May 13 and winning a handicap at Fair Hills on May 27, but then she fell off him in the Smithwick at Saratoga on July 27, after which, mainly because of Forrest Boyd's terrible ride in that race, apprentices were banned from riding at Saratoga and Belmont.
Nagle rode Jose in the Turf Writers and was third before his winning ride on Jose in the Lonesome Glory.
"Jose has had a great year this year," said Sheppard. "We got a nice break in the weights in the Lonesome Glory. We got 14 pounds from Modem. Darren was on his best form. He gave him a great ride."
"I have to give credit to Keri," said Sheppard. "In the Iroquois, she said he'd be better in blinkers, and he is."
Sheppard said that Jose doesn't have much acceleration, and that the Turf Writers had been Nagle's first ride on the horse, so in the Lonesome Glory he planned to keep him closer to the pace, and it worked.
"I'm very proud of the horse," said Sheppard. "We're looking forward to Far Hills. Let the chips fall where they may."
BRUTON STREET-US' Moscato won the $75,000 William Entenmann, also at Belmont on Sept. 21.
Trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Sean McDermott, Moscato won by 3 1/2 lengths over Armata Stables' New Member (Ire), also trained by Fisher and ridden by Danny Mullins.
Hendriks saddled Orchestra Leader, owned by Rosbrian Farm and ridden by Ross Geraghty, to win the $25,000 Alloance Optional Claiming race at the Foxfield Fall Races in Charlottesville, Va., on Sept. 24, beating Bruton Street-US' Lord Justice (Ire), trained by Fisher and ridden by McDermott, by 6 lengths.
Leslie Young trained both the first and second place finishers in the $20,000 Filly and Mare Maiden Hurdle, both owned by Amy Taylor Rowe, with Waveless (GB), ridden by Kieran Norris, first and Lady Blanco, ridden by Graham Watters, second.
Jimmy Day saddled Shannon Hill Farm's Show King, ridden by McDonald, to win the $15,000 Maiden Claiming Hurdle over C & C Racing LLC's Pack Yer Tack, trained by Brion and ridden by Mitchell.
There were four Maiden Hurdle races at Shawan Downs in Hunt Valley, Md., on Sept. 23, and the $20,000 Maiden was won by Beverly Steinman's First Friday, trained by Doug Fout and ridden by Jack Doyle.
The next three maiden races had a purses of $25,000, and they were won by Mrs. S.K. Johnson's Hanno, trained by Fisher and ridden by McDermott, by Hudson River Farms' Aflutter, trained by Sheppard and ridden by Doyle, and by Welcome Here Farm's Second Amendment, trained by Elizabeth Merryman and ridden by Nagle.
The $25,000 Open timber was won by Kiplin Hall's Rodriguez (Ire), trained by William Dowling and ridden by Nagle.
The two $15,000 Maiden Timber races were won by Welcome Here Farm's Where's the Beef, trained by Ivan Dowling and ridden by Mark Beecher, and by Ivy Hill Stable, LLC's Beck's Bad Boy, trained by Alicia Murphy and ridden by Keith Dalton.