09/18/2014 1:08PM

Demonstrative scores in Lonesome Glory

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Demonstrative, with Robbie Walsh aboard, clears the final fence to win the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory.

Demonstrative solidified his status as the nation’s top steeplechase horse with a victory in Thursday’s Grade 1, $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap at Belmont Park.

Sent off as the 8-5 second choice in a field of eight, Demonstrative ($5.40), the highweight at 158 pounds under Robbie Walsh, took the lead from 13-1 longshot Spy in the Sky with one fence remaining and held off a late charge from Parker’s Project, returning from a layoff of more than two years, to prevail by a length. The winning time for 2 1/2 miles was 5:01.70.

Divine Fortune, last year’s Eclipse Award champion, led for much of the race, but fell going over the final fence. He was part of a three-horse coupled entry favored at even money that failed to place among the top three finishers. Divine Fortune was able to walk off the course.

As a result, the show payoffs were skewed. Demonstrative, trained by Richard Valentine, paid $6.50 to show. He won the New York Turf Writers and was second by a nose in the A.P. Smithwick, both at Saratoga.

Parker’s Project, racing for the first time since May 2012, paid $29.80 to show, higher than his $26.20 place price. Third finisher Spy in the Sky paid $16.60.

Valentine was non-commital as to whether the 7-year-old Demonstrative will run in the richest race of the season, the Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 18.

"If the ground were to come up firm at Far Hills we would probably go, but if it were soft we'd stay home. He wants firm turf," Valentine said.

The trainer credited minor throat surgery for reviving Demonstrative's career this summer.

"We discovered he had been entrapping his epiglottis," Valentine said. "We did the tie-back operation at Cornell. Everybody who has scoped the horse has been really impressed with the job they did."