ELMONT, N.Y. - Undefeated since being transferred to the care of trainer Chad Brown, Juddmonte Farms' multiple graded stakes winning turf specialist Flintshire will face three rivals as he goes in search of his fourth consecutive victory headlining Saturday's $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park.
The Joe Hirsch will be run as race 6 on a star-studded card that includes four additional stakes - the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame, the Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh, the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom, and the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim. The Joe Hirsch serves as a "Win and You're In" race with an all-fees paid entry to next month's Breeders' Cup Turf Division at Santa Anita Park.
With career earnings of more than $7.5 million before joining the Brown barn this year for an exclusive North American campaign, Flintshire has remained in top form. The 6-year-old son of Dansili made his first start for his new conditioner on June 11 at Belmont Park, displaying his class to win the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan before going on to the Grade 2 Bowling Green and Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga Race Course.
"He's settled in nicely since joining us and fortunately, he's taken to our program like the class horse he is," said Brown. "He came to us in outstanding condition from Andre Fabre and he's been managed by both Mr. Fabre and Juddmonte so well, it's a privilege to train a horse that's still on the top of his game at age 6."
Having collected all eight of his career wins from 22 starts on turf conditions listed as no worse good to firm, the threat of Saturday's forecasted inclement weather has left Brown cautious, yet optimistic.
"Of course, there's some concern with the possibility of rain," said Brown. "He prefers firm ground but we'll hope for the best. He's a top class horse so he should be able to handle the conditions. "
Drawing post 4, Flintshire will retain the services of Javier Castellano.
Also slated to enter the Joe Hirsch from the Brown barn is Klaravich Stables' 4-year-old Money Multiplier. A son of Lookin At Lucky, he has finished no worse than second in his last five starts. Coming off a second-place finish to Flintshire the Sword Dancer and working routinely with his accomplished stablemate, Money Multiplier has impressed Brown with his development throughout the year.
"They've been breezing together coming up for this and they both seem to be doing well," added Brown. "Certainly, we've been encouraged by Money Multiplier's development. He's really proven to be a top class horse this year so we're excited to see that."
Set to leave from post 3, Money Multiplier will have Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the irons.
Another European transfer looking is Al Saqab Racing's Ectot who is looking for his firast North American win. A 5-year-old British-bred son of Hurricane Run, he was previously conditioned b Elle Lellouche in France where he was a multiple group stakes winner as a 3-year-old. In 2014 Ectot faced Flintshire in the Group 1 Prix de I'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in which he ran a disappointing 17th to Flintshire's second-place finish.
Now under the care of Todd Pletcher, Ectot has made a pair of starts for his new trainer, debuting on August 6 at Saratoga Race Course to a fourth-place finish in the Lure before finishing second by a nose while racing close to the lead most of the way in an optional-claiming race on September 4 at Saratoga going a 1 ½ miles on the turf.
"We're hoping with that [last] race under his belt, it will get him that much fitter, and hopefully a little more relaxed early on," said Pletcher. "His form from Europe at one time was very good. He's shown us at times in his training he's still got some great races in him. We're hoping that one of those will be Saturday."
Drawing the rail, Ectot will be ridden by Jose Ortiz.
Rounding out the field is West Point Thoroughbreds multiple graded stakes winner Twilight Eclipse. Trained by Tom Albertrani, the 7-year-old son of Purim has amassed career earnings of over $2 million from 35 lifetime starts. He enters the Joe Hirsch coming off back-to-back third-place finishes against Flintshire in the Bowling Green and Sword Dancer.
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