Spirit And Glory Runs Away With Plenty of Grace

April 21, 2024

Spirit and Glory uncatchable in the Plenty of Grace (Susie Raisher)

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By Christian Abdo – NYRA Press Office

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Spirit And Glory earned her fourth career stakes win, leading every step of the way under jockey Jose Lezcano to capture Sunday’s Listed $150,000 Plenty of Grace, a one-mile inner turf test for older fillies and mares, at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Trained and co-owned by Robert Falcone, Jr. with Michael Nentwig, Michael Dubb, Beast Mode Racing and John Rochfort, Spirit And Glory broke alertly from post 3 and was immediately taken to the front as Sunset Louise settled into second position with Midnight Mile to her inside in third and Marvelous Maude the early trailer as the tightly-compact field approached the first turn. The order remained unchanged with Spirit And Glory establishing a two-length cushion through an opening quarter-mile in 24.49 seconds over the firm footing.

The 5-year-old Cotai Glory bay held her lead into the backstretch with Sunset Louise drawing closer and Marvelous Maude advancing into third in the three-path while Midnight Mile saved ground at the rail. Spirit And Glory’s lead shrunk to one length over the Kendrick Carmouche-piloted Sunset Louise through the half-mile in 48.91.

Entering the far turn, the Chad Brown-trained duo of Marvelous Maude and Midnight Mile began to launch their bids. Marvelous Maude passed the stalking Sunset Louise on the outside as Midnight Mile was called upon by Trevor McCarthy, who moved her into second position along the rail. Lezcano patiently waited to unleash Spirit And Glory, who remained 1 1/2-lengths in front after three-quarters in 1:12.31.

At the top of the stretch, Midnight Mile angled out to the two-path to attempt a late rally but the early pacesetter had too much in the tank, impressively kicking away to a 4 1/2-length lead through seven-eighths in 1:23.61.

“You could see when Jose pinched her at the three-eighths she opened up a little bit and it looked like she had a lot left,” said Falcone, Jr. “She was on the wrong lead, so you hope they don’t get lost – she’s been closing every single race her whole life and finds herself turning for home with no one around her you start to wonder if she’ll start flicking her ears and waiting or kick on. She kicked on.”

With Lezcano keeping her to task, Spirit And Glory’s command only grew, crossing the line a five-length winner in a final time of 1:34.92.

Midnight Mile was a clear second with five lengths back to Marvelous Maude, who maintained third by a neck over Sunset Louise. Tass and Silver Skillet were scratched, along with main track-only entrants Venti Valentine, Movie Moxy, and Ocean Gateway.

Lezcano said Spirit And Glory found the winner’s circle with ease.

“She was very comfortable the whole way around. She go very easy for the first half, and when I go to the quarter [pole], five-sixteenths, I just sprinted home that way she can get full stride and I see the other horses come running – but she had it in full stride,” said Lezcano. “She did everything right today to win.”

To the winner’s circle for Spirit And Glory and her connections (Susie Raisher)

Spirit And Glory, who entered off an eighth-place finish in the 1 1/16-mile Tom Benson Memorial on March 23 at Fair Grounds, is now 2-for-3 on the year with a rallying score in the 1 1/16-mile Albert M. Stall Memorial at the Louisiana oval off a six-month layoff. Sunday’s score added to past stakes success in the 2022 Virginia Oaks at Colonial Downs and last year’s Miss Liberty at Monmouth Park.

Winning co-owner Michael Dubb, who also co-owns Saturday’s Listed Danger’s Hour-winner Spirit of St Louis, complimented Falcone Jr.’s conditioning.

“Rob has done a wonderful job with this horse spotting her in the right places and she was much the best today,” said Dubb. “This horse, if you watch her other races, she pulls and wants to go to the lead. It’s not always prudent when there’s a hot pace to go to the lead. Today, he [Lezcano] put the reins down and let the horse run and once she got to the lead it was pretty much over.”

McCarthy said that Midnight Mile, who won the Group 3 Oh So Sharp in October 2022 at Newmarket before a fourth-place finish in her lone previous stateside start in that year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, performed admirably.

“I had a beautiful trip. I saved ground both turns and got nice cover – pocket trip the whole way, just second best. A great effort for her second start here in the states,” McCarthy said.

Bred in Ireland by Dr. Noel Cogan and Patrick Williams, Spirit And Glory, who is out of the Invincible Spirit mare Supreme Spirit, placed second in the 1 1/16-miles Grade 2 Yellow Ribbon in March 2023 at Del Mar.

Spirit And Glory banked $82,500 for her Plenty of Grace victory, boosting her total purse earnings to $476,220 through a record of 18-6-2-1. She returned $6.30 for a $2 win bet.

Live racing resumes Thursday at the Big A with an eight-race card. First post is 1:20 p.m. Eastern.

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