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Bob Le Beau stakes its claim as the new jumper to beat
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BOB LE BEAU CARRIES Jack Doyle over a fence in winning last Thursdays $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap at Belmont Park, The pair also won the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup in Saratoga in August. - photo by Photo courtesy of NYRA

The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau burnished his credentials for the 2015 Eclipse Award when he moved powerfully into Belmont Park’s homestretch, grabbed the lead inside the furlong pole, and held safe Hinterland for a half-length victory in last Thursday’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1).

It was the second straight Grade 1 victory for the Irish-bred trained by Elizabeth Voss. Bob Le Beau won Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) by 7 1/4 lengths on Aug. 27.

Sent off as the odds-on favorite at .75-to-1, Bob Le Beau ran the Lonesome Glory’s 2 1/2 miles in 4:41.27 on firm turf. Irv Naylor’s newcomer Dawalan finished third, a length behind Sonny Via’s Hinterland and a nose ahead of Naylor’s Charminster.

Voss said she was concerned that Bob Le Beau would tire under the 154-pound highweight, but jockey Jack Doyle said his mount conserved energy well at the back of the eight-horse field with Hinterland.

Gil Johnston’s Syros set the early pace under Paddy Young and was still on the lead in company with Diplomat and Alajmal as the field entered the homestretch, where the final two fences where blocked off for safety considerations.

Doyle roused Bob Le Beau in early stretch and moved him forward with strong handling. They were third at the furlong pole and quickly moved past Syros and Diplomat to seize the victory. Hinterland, checked by Sean McDermott in traffic at the top of the stretch, closed well for the place spot at 17.90-to-1.

Doyle said Bob Le Beau jumped as well in the Lonesome Glory. “Today, he probably jumped the best he’s ever jumped,” said Doyle. “Two jumps out in the straight probably helped me more than it helped anyone else because I could use his flat speed a little bit more, but I think he would’ve won even if they were there.

“I think he’s a very good horse. He’s a completely different animal compared to last year, and the hood (added by trainer Voss) has made so much of a difference to him. It just settles him, and I think he’s only going to get better from here.”

Bob Le Beau had led the National Steeplechase Association standings prior to the Lonesome Glory and added another $90,000 to his bank account, raising his 2015 total to $216,250.

Fout and Norris have winning weekend: Trainer Doug Fout and jockey Kieran Norris combined forces for a sweep of the weekend’s featured races when Betsy Mead’s Forgotten Man drew clear to a 2 3/4-length victory in Foxfield Fall’s $25,000 optional allowance hurdle on Sunday. 

A day earlier, the Fout-Norris team accounted for Shawan Downs’ $25,000 Legacy Chase with Magalen O. Bryant’s Lea Von.

Bruce Smart Jr.’s Orchestra Leader, who shared the 156-pound highweight with Forgotten Man in the Foxfield feature, finished second, and Bau Bai Gold checked in third. Winner of the Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in April, Forgotten Man ran the Foxfield race’s 2 1/8 miles in 4:12.40 on a Charlottesville, Va., turf course rated as firm.

Jockey Paddy Young collected victories in two other hurdle races, on Michael Moran’s Ivy Mills for trainer Jack Fisher in a $20,000 maiden hurdle for fillies and mares and on Debra Kachel’s Hooping for trainer Ricky Hendriks in a maiden claiming hurdle. The four-time riding champion also had a win at Shawan Downs and expanded his lead over Jack Doyle to five wins, 16 to 11. Doyle maintains a sizable lead in the jockey standings by purse earnings.

Magalen O. Bryant’s Lea Von, sent against more seasoned timber competitors, pulled a modest upset Saturday when he drew clear to a 3 1/4-length victory in Shawan Downs’ featured $25,000 Legacy Chase.

Peace Fire finished second, a length ahead of third-place finisher Certain Swagger. Grinding Speed, previously unbeaten this year and coming off his second Virginia Gold Cup win, finished fourth.

Kieran Norris placed Lea Von in midpack through the early going of the 3 1/8-mile timber race and unleashed a strong late move that carried him to a clear-cut victory in 6:12.20 on firm turf.

Trained by Doug Fout, Lea Von scored his second win of the year, following a maiden win at the Willowdale Steeplechase on May 10. The six-year-old Purim gelding also finished third behind Grinding Speed in the My Lady’s Manor.

Michael Wharton’s Grinding Speed followed the pace and advanced to second at one point in the late going but was unable to keep pace with the top three.