09/18/2009 12:00AM

Pierrot Lunaire tops strong entry


ELMONT, N.Y. - Pierrot Lunaire made an auspicious North American debut six months ago when he shipped in from Europe to upset two-time Eclipse Award winning steeplechase horse Good Night Shirt in the Grade 1 Iroquois Stakes in Nashville.

For an encore, Pierrot Lunaire will try to capture a second Grade 1 when he heads a field of nine entered in Sunday's $150,000 Lonesome Glory Steeplechase at Belmont Park. The Lonesome Glory, run at 2 1/2 miles over 12 National Fences, is carded as the first of 10 races.

Pierrot Lunaire will run as part of a coupled entry along with Sermon of Love for the 92-year-old owner Calvin Houghland. Houghland, a Nashville resident, purchased Pierrot Lunaire about 10 days before the May 9 Iroquois in part to try to win the same race as an owner that he had won as a rider 65 years ago. Pierrot Lunaire had arrived in New York for quarantine a week before that race and arrived at trainer Bruce Miller's Unionville, Pa., stable on a Tuesday before shipping to Tennessee on Wednesday.

After trailing the field under Chip Miller - Bruce's son - Pierrot Lunaire swooped past Good Night Shirt after the final fence en route to a three-length victory. It was Good Night Shirt's first loss in two years.

"It was a complete surprise to me," Bruce Miller said. "He did it quite nicely. He's been a great horse to train, hard to figure out because he does whatever he wants to and he's not bold about it."

Miller's concern entering the Lonesome Glory is the likelihood of firm turf. The ground was soft at Percy Warner Park when Pierrot Lunaire won the Iroquois.

Sermon of Love - one of three horses entered by Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard - comes in off a second-place finish to Spy in the Sky in the New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga.

"I thought he ran a great race, I was very happy with him," Sheppard said. "It was a little bit of a strange race; the one horse went ridiculously quick and strung out the field. It wasn't a very pretty race to watch. Hopefully, it won't happen again."

Sheppard also has entered Mixed Up and Arcadius. Mixed Up was beaten 50 lengths in the Turf Writers with jockey Xavier Aizpuru. Sheppard plans to reunite Mixed Up with regular rider Danielle Hodsdon, though she twisted a knee earlier in the week when she was bucked off a horse. Sheppard said Hodsdon got on horses for him Friday morning.

Dynaski, beaten a neck in the Fout last out, drops significant weight off his last and is a late threat.