09/21/2008 11:00PM

Good Night Shirt cruises in tune-up


Good Night Shirt got his fall campaign off to a successful start Sunday, stalking Red Letter Day for more than two miles, before taking the lead turning for home and cruising to a 3 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1, $150,00 Lonesome Glory Steeplechase at Belmont Park.

Sermon of Love, who trailed the field for two miles, got up in the final strides to nip Red Letter Day for second by a neck.

Under William Dowling, Good Night Shirt settled into second position after leaping the first fence and stayed there until the stretch run. He took over just before the penultimate fence and handled those fences easily en rout to the victory. Good Night Shirt, owned by Harold Via Jr. and trained by Jack Fisher, covered the 2 1/2 miles in 4:24.88 and returned $2.80 as the overwhelming choice in the field of eight.

The victory was the third is as many starts this year for Good Night Shirt, who is hoping to repeat the same campaign that won him an Eclipse Award as North America's champion steeplechase horse last year. Good Night Shirt will run next in the Grand National at Far Hills, N.J. on Oct. 18.

"Any idiot could train him,'' Fisher said. "He does everything right. Today he was giving away 20 pounds to just about everybody. Big Brown can't do that. It's a lot of weight. But he's such a classy horse. I've been riding and working him to get him used to it - I'm 155 pounds, so with the tack and everything it's about 170 pounds. His works have been lackadaisical but you find that in older horses. Far Hills is next."