who has made two successful cross-Atlantic raids so far in 2011, will make
another trip from Ireland to
the United States to compete
in Belmont Park’s Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf
Classic Invitational on October 1, trainer Aidan O’Brien confirmed via
Winner of the last year’s Group 1 Irish Derby, Cape Blanco
already has a victory at Belmont
to his credit, having defeated Gio Ponti in the Grade 1 Man o’ War in July.
He returned to Ballydoyle training center in Ireland
following the Man o’ War, then came back to the United States to beat Gio Ponti
once again in August’s Grade 1 Arlington Million, his most recent start.
“He appears to be in great form so we’re hopeful
he’ll run somewhere close to best again in the Joe Hirsch,” said
O’Brien, who trains the son of Galileo for Mrs. Fitri Hay, Derrick Smith,
Mrs. John Magnier, and Michael Tabor. “He’s an extremely laid-back
horse so the traveling doesn’t seem to take too much out of him.”
O’Brien said Cape Blanco’s travel plans have not been finalized
but that 4-year-old is likely to depart for New York on September 27.
A victory in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic would bolster Cape Blanco’s
case for the 2011 Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Male Turf Horse, a fact not
lost upon O’Brien and the owners.
“He’s beaten 2009 and 2010 Champion Turf Horse Gio Ponti in
both the Man o’ War and the Arlington Million, so we’d like to
think he’s in with a good shot at getting an Eclipse Award,” said
O’Brien. “However, there are plenty of races yet to be run, so
let’s see what happens. There was no great ‘master plan’ to
win an Eclipse Award, but we’re delighted that he is now in contention