Joe Hirsch Turf Classic 2019: Odds and analysis for Saturday's race

October 02, 2019 04:30pm

Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park falls on the racing calendar an even four weeks ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Turf and is run at the same 1 1/2-mile distance of that championship event.

This century, the Turf Classic winner has gone on to take the Breeders’ Cup Turf twice and the Eclipse Award for Top Male Turf horse five times: Kitten’s Joy (2004 Eclipse), English Channel (2007 Eclipse and Breeders’ Cup), Cape Blanco (2011 Eclipse), Main Sequence (2014 Eclipse and Breeders’ Cup), and Big Blue Kitten (2015 Eclipse).

This renewal of the Turf Classic drew a field of seven and is slated as Race 9 out of 11 with post time scheduled for 4:50 pm ET. Here is a full-field analysis with prospective morning line odds by Horse Racing Nation.

Zulu Alpha [ML 4-1 – Street Cry (IRE) – M. Maker/C. Hill – 28: 9-4-5 - $1,164,174] This Michael Maker runner has three graded stakes victories this year and a loss by a neck in the United Nations (G1) at Monmouth Park. Most recently, he drew away to win the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at Kentucky Downs. He prefers to make his closing move from a stalking position. His only start on a firm Belmont turf in the Man O’War (G1), however, produced an uninvolved seventh. Board hitter.

Channel Cat [ML 3-1 – English Channel – T. Pletcher/L. Saez – 17: 5-2-4 - $823,292] This Calumet Farms homebred does his best running when he has the lead at the stretch call. Sometimes that happens when he leads from the start, but at other times it comes after establishing a stalking position. He won the Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga in July when he beat a field of 12 on the front end. In four tries, he has yet to win a Grade 1. Win contender.

Ya Primo (CHI) [ML 8-1 – Mastercraftsman (IRE) – C. Brown/I. Ortiz Jr. – 11: 5-1-1 - $515,984] This 4-year-old came to the Chad Brown barn after winning four graded stakes in Chile. In his American debut, he ran a nice second in the Bowling Green, finishing between Channel Cat and Arklow. However, in his next start in the Sword Dancer (G1), he set the pace and then faded badly to finish ninth. With such differing results, it's tough to know what to expect from him in this Grade 1 field. Live longshot.

Cross Border [ML 30-1 – English Channel – M. Maker/M. Franco – 18: 6-3-1 - $208,046] This New York-bred appears to be making a huge step up in class. The former winner of a $20,000 maiden claimer at Woodbine won his last three starts at Saratoga in two state-bred allowance races and starter allowance company. Trainer Michael Maker will have to pull quite an upset to get this son of English Channel to win his stakes debut. Toss.

Arklow [ML 8-1 – Arch – B. Cox/J. Alvarado – 22: 5-6-2 - $1,501,382] Arklow shows three second-place finishes this year and a third. In those races, he ended up behind both Channel Cat and Channel Maker. He has not found the winner’s circle period in about 13 months. The Brad Cox runner would also be seeking his initial Grade 1 victory. Use underneath

Sadler’s Joy [ML 5-1 – Kitten’s Joy – T. Albertrani/J. Lezcano – 24: 6-4-6 - $2,301,360] It’s been a year and a half since this 6-year-old found the winner’s circle at Gulfstream Park in the Mac Diarmida (G2). That is not to say that the former Grade 1 winner is in bad for, as he missed a victory in the Sword Dancer (G1) by a neck at Saratoga, a race he won in 2017. At his best, the 6-year-old is a threat to win and when he doesn’t get the victory, he frequently hits the board as a deep closer. Use underneath.

Channel Maker [ML 2-1 – English Channel – W. Mott/J. Velazquez – 27: 5-4-3 - $2,047,108] This Bill Mott-trained son of English Channel has won two of his five career races at Belmont Park, including the Man O’ War (G1) back in May and last year’s Turf Classic. Since the Man O’ War, he finished fourth three times with two them running behind Channel Cat. He prefers to sit close to the early pace and shows victories on both firm and soft turf. He looks to be going the right way at this time of year. Top Choice.


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