OTB Race Previews
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Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic is on tap for this Saturday, September 26 from Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. A purse of $600,000 will be on the line for horses three years old and upward willing to go 1 1/2 miles on Belmont Park's turf track.
A field of seven will take to the track in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic - race 11 on Belmont Park's stack Saturday care. Post time is 6:01 PM. Here is a peek into the past performances of all seven combatants for this intriguing Grade 1 stakes - a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the $3 million Longines Breeders' Cup Turf October 31. .
Big Blue Kitten 2-1 - three-time Grade 1 winner won the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes in 2013 and had some other decent results in that year. In 2014 he won the minor Lure Stakes at Saratoga and followed that with a second in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger Stakes August 24 and a fourth in the 2014 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. He also had consecutive runner up finishes to end his year - the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap in August and the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International in October. Big Blue Kitten has four starts this year with two wins and two second place finishes. Last time out was a second in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions August 15 after a repeat win in the Grade 1 United nations Stakes at Monmouth Park in July, a second behind Slumber in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes in June and an impressive win in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Stakes May 2. Overall he has 13 wins, eight seconds and four third place finishes in 28 career starts and has two wins and four runner-up finishes in his last six starts overall. Joe Bravo has been tabbed to ride the ultra-competitive morning line favorite from post 3.
Red Rifle 5-2 - Todd Pletcher trained gelding has seven wins, six seconds and a third place finish in 20 career starts and enters off a good second in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga August 29. That result followed a nice two race win streak - the Grade 2 Bowling Green Handicap over War Dancer and Imagining August 1 and the Grade 3 Dominion Day Stakes July 1 at Woodbine. Before that was his worst performance in some time - a ninth in the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational June 5 which followed a decent second in the Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes at Aqueduct April 25 and a fifth in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap March 28. He did make some noise with a terrific win in the Grade 2 Hawthorne Gold Cup in November and also had an OK second in the Grade 3 Sycamore Stakes at Keeneland October 16 to go along with his two wins and a second place finish in his last three starts overall. Red Rifle has looked terrific lately and could be a factor. Javier Castellano has the mount on the morning line second choice from the rail.
Slumber 7-2 - Chad Brown pupil had two wins, a second and two third place finishes in eight starts in Great Britain before debuting in North America in November, 2011 with a fourth in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. He had five starts in 2014 including a third in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes in March, and a decent third in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes February 15. Slumber started 2015 with consecutive seconds - the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap in February and the Grade 2 Mervin H. Muniz Handicap in March and followed that with a fifth in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs May 2. Last time out was his first really bad effort he last two years - an eighth in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions August 15 which followed Slumber's first win in nearly two years - in the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes June 6. That makes a win and three runner-up finishes in his last five starts. He looks for a strong bounce back Saturday when he leaves from post 5 with Irad Ortiz in the irons.
Twilight Eclipse 5-1 - is the world record holder at 1 1/2 miles on turf when he won the Grade 2 William McKnight Handicap December 28, 2013 in wire-to-wire fashion by seven lengths. He's placed in nine of 10 races ahead of this weekend - a seventh three starts back in the Grade 3 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park June 7 was the lone bad race over the last year. Good results over that span include thirds in his last two starts - the Grade 1 Sword Dancer last time out at Saratoga August 29 and the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes July 5, his first win in 15 months - the Grade 1 Man o' War Stakes May 9, a third in the Grade 2 Pan American Stakes March 28, a second in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida Stakes February 21, a third right behind Flintshire in the Breeders' Cup Turf, a second in the 2014 Joe Hirsch Classic September 27, a third in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga August 17, 2014 and a decent second as favorite in the 2014 United Nations Stakes. He has 27 career starts with seven wins, five seconds and six third place finishes and will be after just his second win in 19 months despite looking decent. Twilight Eclipse has Joel Rosario guiding him from gate 4.
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Shining Copper 10-1 - Michael Maker trained gelding enters off an OK third in the Grade 1 Arlington Millions which followed a pair of pedestrian fourth place finishes in Allowance Optional Claiming races at Churchill Downs this past spring and an Allowance Optional Claiming score at Fair Grounds in February. He has five wins, three seconds and six third place finishes in 23 career starts and looks for his first stakes score Saturday from the outside post 7 with Manuel Franco guiding him.
Quiet Force 20-1 - won the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap in July for trainer Michael Make but followed that with an ugly tenth last time out in the Grade 1 Arlington Million Stakes August 15.He has won three of his last five starts overall including the Arlington score and the minor J. Kenneth Self Shelby County Boys and Girls Club Stakes in July, 2014 but has some work to do in order to contend here. Jose Ortiz has been tabbed to ride Saturday from gate 6.
Perfect Title 30-1 - James Lawrence trainee makes just his second graded stakes start Saturday (the first being a seventh in the 2013 Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes) after 21 career races yielded four wins, three seconds and five third place finishes. He enters on the heels of a two race win streak - an Allowance Optional Claiming at 18-1 odds August 22 and a Claiming August 7 at 9-1 odds (both at Saratoga) and consecutive runner up finishes at Delaware Park - both Allowance races earlier this summer. He has been good against lesser competition and hopes that success is carried over against top company when he leaves from gate 2 with Kendrick Carmouche aboard the longest shot in the field.
Race 10 on Belmont Park's Saturday card with a Post Time of 6:01 PM.
|1||Red Rifle||J. Castellano||T. Pletcher|
|2||Perfect Title||K. Carmouche||J. Lawrence, II|
|3||Big Blue Kitten||J. Bravo||C. Brown|
|4||Twilight Eclipse||J. Rosario||T. Albertrani|
|5||Slumber (GB)||I. Ortiz, Jr.||C. Brown|
|6||Quiet Force||J. Ortiz||M. Maker|
|7||Shining Copper||M. Franco||C. Brown|