09/20/2009 12:00AM

Red Letter Day wires steeplechase


Red Letter Day, at 21-1 the longest shot on the board in the field of seven, scored a front-running, three-quarter-length victory over favorite Dynaski in Sunday's at Belmont Park. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Arcadius in third.

It was the first victory for Red Letter Day since he won a first-level allowance steeplechase at Philadelphia Park on July 6, 2008. He had lost six consecutive races since then, his best finish being a third in the Lonesome Glory last year.

Under Bernard Dalton, Red Letter Day assumed command from the start, turned back a challenge for the lead from Mixed Up with three furlongs remaining, and then outfinished Dynaski by handling the final two fences of the 12-fence race with aplomb. The winner is trained by Janet Elliot, who just last month was inducted in racing's Hall of Fame.

"Janet just said to me do whatever you want, but whatever you do, try and get a breather into him," Dalton said. "I asked for two big ones over the second to last [jump] and the last [jump], and he gave them to me and they were going to have to come hard and fast to get him."

Red Letter Day, a 6-year-old gelded son of Red Ransom owned by Gregory Hawkins, covered the 2 1/2 miles in 4:47.60 over firm ground and returned $44.60 to win.

"The hardest part is getting races long enough for him," Elliot said. "I knew this race was coming up, and he had run well in it last year. He's been training well into this - I got on him a few times myself this week - and he ran a great race."

Following Arcadius, the order of finish was Spy in the Sky, Isti Bee, Sermon of Love, and Mixed Up. Pierrot Lumaire and Tax Ruling scratched.