OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Following a triumphant out-of-state venture in the Virginia Oaks on September 6 at Colonial Downs, Spirit And Glory will take things to the graded stakes level against a competitive field of nine in Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Sands Point for sophomore fillies going nine furlongs on the inner turf, at Belmont at the Big A.
Spirit And Glory, trained and co-owned by Robert Falcone, Jr. in partnership with Michael Nentwig, Michael Dubb, Beast Mode Racing and John Rochfort, was a 1 1/4-length winner of the nine-furlong Virginia Oaks, where she came from 12th-of-14 after a slow start and catapulted from sixth-to-first in the last two points of call to score under Irad Ortiz, Jr. The winning effort, which garnered a career-high 86 Beyer Speed Figure, was her second attempt at stakes level following a seventh-place finish going one mile in the Grade 3 Lake George on July 22 over the Saratoga inner turf.
“I don’t know that she cornered too well around the Saratoga turf for whatever reason. You could see she didn’t take the turns too well,” Falcone, Jr. said. “She wants more distance anyways, she doesn’t want to go a mile. So, I just threw that race out and pointed for a race that was a little bit further. Being at Colonial, you’ve got a bit of a longer stretch and she got over it really nicely. Irad rode her beautifully and everything went well.”
Spirit And Glory, an Irish-bred daughter of Cotai Glory, was initially campaigned in her native country while under the care of Michael Mulvany and was transferred to Falcone, Jr. in the spring. She made her North American debut for Falcone, Jr. a winning one, displaying her usual off-the-pace tactics to spring a 24-1 upset in a 1 1/16-mile allowance optional claimer in June on Belmont’s inner turf, defeating fellow Sands Point aspirant Canisy.
“It was rewarding. She showed the talent was there,” Falcone, Jr. recalled. “I think she’ll get better the more she gets acclimated to the U.S. and get better with time. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”
Falcone, Jr. acknowledged that winning graded stakes races on the turf in New York is no easy task.
“It’s definitely tough. You don’t get many opportunities that some of the few trainers get. So, it can be tough when you have a couple guys that have built up their business to what they have now,” Falcone, Jr. said. “Some of these guys have A, B, C, and D teams and sometimes their Cs are your As. So, they can go out of town or run their best ones here and their second best ones would be your best one if they were in your barn. It definitely gets tough, but you have to keep rolling and hope to get the opportunities that come about and make something of them when you get to that level. It gives you something to aim for.”
With turf racing winding down in the latter two months of the year, Falcone, Jr. said the Sands Point “very well could be” Spirit And Glory’s final start this year in New York.
“We’ll see how everything maps out and how she runs and take it from there. It could be her last time,” Falcone, Jr. said.
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Spirit and Glory wins the Virginia Oaks (Coady Photography)
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