News & Barn notes

Spirit And Glory Uses Rail-Skimming Stretch Run To Win Sunday’s $100,000 Miss Liberty Stakes

May 28, 2023

OCEANPORT, N.J. – After trying three graded stakes races to no avail with Spirit and Glory over the past two years, trainer Robert Falcone, Jr., acknowledged it may be time to try again.

Spirit and Glory seemed to earn that opportunity on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

With jockey Nik Juarez sending her up the rail coming out of the final turn, eschewing the popular outside move, Spirit and Glory hooked up with front-running 2-5 favorite Scotish Star and then powered by late to win by three-quarters of a length in the $100,000 Miss Liberty Stakes at the Jersey Shore track.

Spirit and Glory, the 3-1 second choice in the field of six fillies and mares, 3 and up, flashed under the wire in 1:41.63 for the mile and a sixteenth grass feature.

“I think we’re definitely ready to try another graded stakes with her,” said Falcone. “We’ll see what happens. I’ll let her tell me. She seems to run well fresh so I want to give her a little time.”

With the victory, the fourth in 13 career starts for the 4-year-old daughter of Coatai Glory, Spirit and Glory earned a free entry and start fees to the Grade 3 WinStar Matchmaker Stakes on the July 22 Haskell Day undercard.

“She’s a tough filly and (jockey) Nik Juarez did a good job with her,” said Falcone, who has a string at Monmouth Park for the first time this year. He also keeps a division in New York. “She got a little rank early on and got squeezed a few times but he got her to relax after that and got her into a rhythm. Honestly, I don’t think she got the best trip in the world. It looked to me like she got checked a few times and Nik had to stand up on her once and you could see her throw her head in the air. He got her to switch off and relax. Everything after that was good.

“The thing I was most concerned about, since she is a tricky filly, is exactly what happened – I didn’t know how she would react if she had to go inside coming out of the final turn instead of going outside. But Nik did what he needed to do to win.”

Paco Lopez, riding the Todd Pletcher-rained Scotish Star, appeared to have things his own way on the front end for the first six furlongs, which he took the field to in 1:12.08. Kalifornia Queen loomed outside going into the final turn with Spirit and Glory beginning to gear up from her stalking trip.

Scotish Star held sway for second, 1½ lengths ahead of Kalifornia Queen.

“With the position I was sitting in down the backstretch (a looming fourth) I had all the confidence in the horse and all the confidence in Robert Falcone bringing the horse ready to the race,” said Juarez. “I was just waiting for a seam to open at the top of the stretch. She found the seam. It was hard-fought through the stretch but she was the best.

“I ended up going inside out of the turn into the stretch because I saw Paco Lopez’s horse was having a little trouble staying straight down the backside. I thought if I came to his hip (outside of him) he would float me wide. There was daylight along the rail and she went right through and that was it. She was gritty. As soon as she got head to head with Paco’s horse she showed she has a little more heart.”

Bred in Ireland, Spirit and Glory is owned by owned by Michael Nentwiq, Michael Dubb, Beast Mode Racing, John Rochfort and Falcone.