ELMONT, N.Y. – Buttonwood Farm’s The Mean Queen bested the boys for a second consecutive Grade 1 start, ending Snap Decision’s nine-race winning streak in a gritty stretch duel in Thursday’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory, a 2 1/2-mile steeplechase event for older horses on Opening Day of the Belmont Park fall meet.
Trained by Keri Brion, the 5-year-old Doyen mare entered from a 4 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $150,000 Jonathan Sheppard on August 18 at Saratoga Race Course.
With Richard Condon up, The Mean Queen, the 7-5 second choice, tracked in third position as Bodes Well led the seven-horse field through the first circuit of the Belmont turf course with Amschel in second and 4-5 favorite Snap Decision, under Graham Watters, settled near the back of the pack in fifth.
Bodes Well attempted to sprint away from the field in the final run down the backstretch as Snap Decision advanced into third position beside The Mean Queen. The two rivals found their best run midway around the final turn easily overtaking Bodes Well to set up a memorable stretch duel.
Snap Decision, carrying a field-high 164 pounds, loomed large with his outside position turning for home but The Mean Queen, assigned 157 pounds, continued to find more, powering through the wire a two-length winner in a final time of 4:37.83.
“I thought the race would pretty much go exactly like that, but I didn’t know if that would be the outcome,” Brion said. “She’s so tough and I said to Richie, ‘If you can just get her a neck in front of him, that’s our best chance because she’ll never let him pass.’ That’s how she works in the morning. Everything she works with, even if they’re going slow, she’s just like, ‘No. You’re not getting past me.’
“Snap came up to her and she kept that neck around the bend,” added Brion. “I knew at the eighth-pole she wasn’t going to let him get past. She’s just something else.”
The Mean Queen has provided Brion with a number of memorable moments this year, including a victory in April at Ireland’s Wexford Racecourse that made her the first U.S.-based trainer to win an Irish hurdle race.
Condon was full of praise for The Mean Queen and her formidable foe.
“They are the two best [steeplechase] horses in America at the moment. The public were really watching this race and the hype between the two horses was really immense,” Condon said. “To get the ride in such a big race against a horse like Snap Decision was just great, and full credit goes to Keri and the mare herself. That was a serious performance.”
Condon said he was a little bit concerned about racing room approaching the stretch run.
“I knew he [Snap Decision] was there, and he made an attempt to keep me in behind Bodes Well,” Condon said. “I made a move sooner than I had planned, but I was delighted to have the rail to guide me to the wire with a top-notch animal underneath me.
“That was a proper Grade 1 by American standards,” Condon added. “Snap Decision lost nothing in defeat. I think the two of them are proper Grade 1 horses and they would be able to compete in Grade 1 races in Ireland and England. That’s the caliber of horse they are. America is lucky to have them.”
Bruton Street’s Snap Decision posted a nine-race win streak dating to 2019 and entered from a Grade 1 win in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois in June at Percy Warner for Hall of Fame trainer Jack Fisher.
Snap Decision’s pilot said he is hopeful of turning the tables in the Grand National at Far Hills, should the two foes meet again.
“He was carrying seven pounds more than her. Lucky enough at Far Hills, in four weeks’ time, we’ll all go off at level weights,” Watters said. “You’d like to think judging off the weights, he’d be able to beat her by open lengths. I thought I was a winner turning in, but the closer we got to the line I could feel that weight getting to me more and more.”
Redicean completed the trifecta with Amschel, Bodes Well, Brianbakescookies and Galway Kid rounding out the order of finish.
Bred in Ireland by Kevin Purfield, The Mean Queen banked $90,000 in victory while improving her career ledger to 8-6-1-0. She returned $4.90 for a $2 win bet.
Live racing returns Friday at Belmont with a nine-race card highlighted by the $100,000 Allied Forces in Race 7 and the $100,000 Christiecat in Race 8. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.
Keith McCalmont/NYRA Press Office
Photo: The Mean Queen, (Chelsea Durand)