OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Bruton Street-US’s three-time Grade 1-winning steeplechaser Snap Decision will look to notch his fourth top-level score for Hall of Fame trainer Jack Fisher in Thursday’s Grade 1, $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap, a 2 1/2-mile test over the hurdles for older horses, at Aqueduct Racetrack to kick off stakes action for the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.
An 8-year-old gelded son of Hard Spun, Snap Decision finished second in this event last year to The Mean Queen, who is entered in the $75,000 William Entenmann Novice in Race 1.
Snap Decision enters from a dominating performance in the Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard Handicap on August 17 at Saratoga Race Course where he overcame 164 pounds to come home an impressive 13 1/4-length winner over Going Country in the 2 3/8-mile test.
“I was very proud,” Fisher said. “He’s doing better than ever, and I think he’s a much better horse than he was last year.”
Snap Decision will be making his fifth start of a season that began with a runner-up finish to returning rival Iranistan in the Grade 2 Temple Gwathmey Hurdle in April at Middleburg in his first effort off a six-month respite. He followed with a triumphant repeat victory in the Grade 1 Iroquois in May at Percy Warner, defeating Pistol Whipped by 7 1/4 lengths. This July, he returned to the flat for the first time since he joined Fisher’s barn in April 2019, finishing third in the Colonial Cup at Colonial Downs before his Jonathan Sheppard romp.
Fisher said jumping has allowed Snap Decision to reach his full potential as a racehorse.
“He wasn’t a top horse on the flat, but some horses just love to jump,” said Fisher. “My old assistant has a horse who would turn left out of the gate but loves jumping. Some horses just love it.”
A model of consistency, Snap Decision has never finished off-the-board in 16 starts over the jumps. His record of 35-13-7-7 includes a memorable nine-race winning streak from July 2019 to June 2021 that was highlighted by his first graded scores in Temple Gwathmey and the Iroquois. He boasts total purse earnings of $822,334.
Assigned a field-high 168 pounds, Snap Decision drew post 1 with regular rider Graham Watters in the irons.
Trainer Keri Brion will be represented by two contenders in dual Grade 1-placed Iranistan and nine-time winner Ask Paddington (IRE), who makes his stateside debut in his first outing for Brion.
Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan was last seen finishing a distant sixth as the post-time favorite in the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick behind Down Royal on July 20, tracking in second for the first mile before fading to the back of the field.
“He bled in the Smithwick, but he’s never bled before, so we believe it was a one-off thing,” Brion said. “He’s gone to the hyperbaric chamber, and we’ve done some things, so he’s back and it will be good to see him back over two and a half miles.”
Iranistan defeated Snap Decision by 2 1/4 lengths this spring in the Temple Gwathmey, and Brion said she is hopeful the son of Einstein can play spoiler again as he carries 20 pounds less  than his familiar rival.
“Getting all the weight off Snap Decision [helps]. He beat him when he had 14 pounds off of him,” said Brion. “Having 20 pounds off this time is good to see. If he shows up back to the Iranistan we know, it will take a lot to beat him. He’s showing all the signs he’s still the horse that beat Snap Decision this spring.”
Iranistan picked up Grade 1 placings for previous trainer Jonathan Sheppard when second in the Smithwick and third in the New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga in 2018. In addition to his Temple Gwathmey score, Iranistan’s other win in four starts for Brion was a 1 1/2-length score in the Noel Laing in November at Montpelier.
Metahorse Racing’s Ask Paddington streaks into the Lonesome Glory from four victories in England dating to this May with a strong nine-length score going 2 9/16 miles at Market Rasen. Most recently, he was a determined three-quarter-length winner at the same course going 2 7/8 miles over good going.
Brion said that while some European horses struggle with the speed of American steeplechasers, Ask Paddington is plenty fast and has served as the workmate for Brion’s Champion Steeplechaser The Mean Queen.
“He has a lot of speed at home, and he could really be anything,” said Brion. “Any horse that can work with The Mean Queen you have to respect. He can stay right alongside her.”
An 8-year-old son of Ask, Ask Paddington will make his 33rd outing at his 15th racetrack, something Brion said the chestnut gelding has taken all in stride.
“He’s a very classy animal and they’ve done a great job with him in England,” said Brion. “He came here in really good order. You can tell he’s a good horse, so we’ll see. I’m excited about him.”
Parker Hendriks will pilot Iranistan from post 2 while Danny Mullins [146 pounds] is tasked with the ride aboard Ask Paddington from post 5.
Four-time stakes-winner Song for Someone (GER) [post 6, 150 pounds, Thomas Garner] is one of two entries for conditioner Leslie Young, who also sends out Grade 2-winner Redicean [post 7, 140 pounds, Sam Twiston-Davies].
Mrs. S. K. Johnston, Jr.’s Song for Someone will make his second stateside start after finishing a distant fifth in the Jonathan Sheppard last out. The 7-year-old Medicean gelding won three stakes in a row in 2020 in his native England, taking the Kingwell Hurdle in February at Kempton, the Ascot Coral Hurdle in November at Ascot and the International Hurdle in December at Cheltenham. He is searching for his first win in seven starts since then.
Redicean (blue cap inside) was nose to nose with Rashaan (#1 outside) in the 2020 New York Turf Writers Cup G1 but missed the victory by a 1/2 length.
Sharon Sheppard’s Rediceam (GB) makes his 10th appearance in Grade 1 company as he enters from a third to Snap Decision in the Jonathan Sheppard. The 8-year-old son of Medicean picked up his lone graded win in style this spring when a runaway 54-length winner of the Grade 2 David Semmes Memorial in May at Great Meadow. The veteran bay has hit the board in five other graded events, including a third in this race last year.
Completing the field are Belfast Banter [post 3, 144 pounds, Jamie Bargary], Noah And The Ark [post 4, 140 pounds, Harrison Beswick] and Amschel [post 8, 142 pounds, Barry Foley].
The Lonesome Glory is slated as Race 2 on Thursday’s 10-race Opening Day Card, which kicks off with the William Entenmann Novice Stakes in Race 1. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
The William Entenmann, a 2 3/8-mile novice hurdle stake open to older horses who have not won over hurdles prior to March 1, 2021, or which have never won three races other than 3-year-olds, is highlighted by the return of the aforementioned The Mean Queen for trainer Keri Brion.
Buttonwood Farm’s The Mean Queen has been away from the races since closing out her Championship season with a win in the Grade 1 Grand National in October at Far Hills. The 6-year-old Doyen mare won the Lonesome Glory last year and was nominated to attempt a title defense but entered the William Entenmann to ease back into the races after her lengthy layoff.
Brion said she is excited to see her three-time Grade 1-winner back at the races.
“She hasn’t run in 10 months, and it seems like the most logical decision,” said Brion. “She gets a good weight in this so it’s her run to get her going again. She’s ready to go. This is the type of horse you dream that you get to train at some point of your career. She’s incredible and we’re really thrilled to have her back out. It’s great the following she’s brought to the sport.”
|1||The Mean Queen||Parker Hendriks||158 pounds|
|2||Proven Innocent||Jamie Bargary||149 pounds|
|3||Booby Trap||Sam Twiston-Davies||153 pounds|
|4||Going Country||Danny Mullins||153 pounds|
|5||Bandua||Gerard Galligan||150 pounds|
|6||Howyabud||Barry Foley||156 pounds|
|7||State of Affair||Thomas Garner||153 pounds|
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Main Photo: Snap Decision winning the Jonathan Sheppard Handicap. (Susie Raisher)