February 27, 2002 -- American steeplechase legend Lonesome Glory died
Monday, Feb. 25 from injuries suffered in a paddock accident at trainer
Bruce Miller's farm.
Owned by Kay Jeffords of New York City, Lonesome Glory is the only American
steeplechase horse to win five Eclipse Awards (1992, 1993, 1995, 1997 and
1999) and also the only American jumper to earn more than $1 million. Miller
said the 14-year-old gelding got cast in his stall overnight Sunday, and
broke a bone in his left hind leg. Efforts to repair the injury failed, and
Lonesome Glory was euthanized Monday.
"Sunday night, he got cast in a paddock he's been in for 10 years," said
Miller. "When we saw him Monday morning, he was standing on three legs.
Several vets looked at him, but there wasn't anything we could do and he was
put down in the afternoon. It's a sad time at the farm right now."
A Kentucky-bred son of Transworld and the Green Dancer mare Stronghold,
Lonesome Glory was sent to Miller as a raw, unraced 2-year-old and developed
into the most-accomplished American steeplechaser in history before being
retired after the 1999 racing season.
He won his only hurdle start as a 3-year-old, and captured four of six
starts as a 4-year-old (clinching his first Eclipse with a historic victory
over hurdles at Cheltenham in England) while still learning the game. The
long-legged chestnut with a wide blaze won another championship with a
victory in the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (NSA-I) at age 5 in 1993. In 1994,
he won the first of his three Colonial Cups (NSA-I) but lost the
championship vote to Warm Spell. A year later, Lonesome Glory played Michael
Jordan dominating the game with a campaign that included three Grade I
victories and a Grade II in five starts. He closed the season in England,
winning a handicap chase at Sandown by 11 lengths.
"To me, the greatest thing he did was win the two races in England one
over hurdles and one over steeplechase fences," said Miller, "but I think
his best race here was that 1993 Breeders' Cup. There were two four-horse
entries in the race, and we were the ninth horse. He beat Highland Bud, who
was going for his third Breeders' Cup win."
Lonesome Glory faltered in 1996, losing his only two American starts after
beginning the year in England. The champion returned again in 1997, however,
joining Flatterer as a four-time champion after becoming the only horse to
sweep the Grade I Carolina and Colonial Cups over the Springdale Race Course
in Camden, S.C. The spring/fall double earned Lonesome Glory a $250,000
Pointed for England again in 1998, Lonesome Glory missed a try at the
Cheltenham Gold Cup with a pulled muscle but returned to action in time to
showcase his talent at Churchill Downs. At age 10, he overwhelmed seven foes
to win the $100,000 Hard Scuffle Stakes. The fifth Eclipse Award would have
to wait a year, however, as Lonesome Glory lost his remaining two starts of
His 11-year-old season began with a second Carolina Cup score in March and
reached a peak with a powerful win in the $188,000 Royal Chase at Keeneland
in April. That would be the horse's final career start as he was retired
while in training for the fall season, but was enough to convince the
Eclipse voters that five was his number.
"He proved he was the best by what he did over time," said Miller, whose
daughter Blythe was Lonesome Glory's regular jockey. "The horses he beat
were pretty special not many horses last like he did at that level. He was
a great horse who did a lot for our whole family."
Lonesome Glory won 19 jump races (17 in the U.S. and two in England) from 35
starts and retired with earnings of $1,352,868. Major victories came in
North America's most storied races, and included three Colonial Cups, two
Carolina Cups, the Temple Gwathmey, the Hard Scuffle, the Royal Chase, the
Iroquois, the New York Turf Writers Cup, the A.P. Smithwick Memorial and the
Breeders' Cup Steeplechase. Lonesome Glory topped the National Steeplechase
Association's theoretical handicap three times in the 1990s, including a
record 170-pound honor after the 1995 season.
Inherited by Jeffords when her husband Walter Jeffords Jr. died in 1990,
Lonesome Glory nearly became a show horse but proved too rambunctious for
His five championships surpass only Flatterer among steeplechasers, and put
him on par with Kelso's run of five Horse of the Year titles or Forego's
string of four consecutive older male championships. Since the Eclipse
Awards were created in 1971, only four other horses have won five or more
(of any type). The others were Forego, John Henry, Affirmed and Secretariat.
Lonesome Glory was buried at the National Steeplechase Museum on the
Springdale Race Course property in Camden, S.C.