The $500,000 Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Saturday drew a field of seven that includes five millionaires, four of whom are Grade 1 winners.
All of the trainers in the field have previous victories in the Joe Hirsch – Brad Cox (2019), Bill Mott (2005, 2018, 2020), Christophe Clement (2010), Chad Brown (2015 and 2017) and Aidan O’Brien (2011).
Here is a full field analysis for the Turf Classic, which is carded as race 7 out of 11 with post time scheduled for 3:47 p.m. EDT. The odds are provided by the Horse Racing Nation staff.
1. Serve the King (GB) (6-1 – Kingman (GB) – Chad Brown / Irad Ortiz Jr. – 9: 4-1-1 - $196,180) This lightly raced 5-year-old got his first stakes victory in the restricted John’s Call at Saratoga in August when he rallied from 10 lengths back to beat a field of seven at odds of 7-2 for Chad Brown. The race was for horses without a stakes win on the grass in 2021. In his only Grade 1 race, he finished fourth in the United Nations. Toss.
2. Arklow (5-1 – Arch – Brad Cox / Jose Lezcano – 35: 9-8-2 - $2,942,246) The 7-year-old’s late rally fell a neck shy of winning the Turf Cup (G2) at Kentucky Downs even after getting steadied in the stretch. He had a win in May in the Louisville (G3) at Churchill Downs. Arklow is 1-for-4 at Belmont Park, winning the Joe Hirsch in 2019. Like several others in this field, he is a threat to win with his best effort. Win contender.
3. Gufo (5-2 – Declaration of War – Christophe Clement / Joel Rosario – 12: 7-2-3 - $1,138,510) In 12 starts, Gufo has never finished worse that third, and that includes seven career wins. He notched his first Grade 1 victory in the Belmont Derby last year and that was followed by a trio of top three results in more Grade 1s. Gufo is in fine form right now for trainer Christophe Clement and has two wins in a row including the Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga, where he rallied from last to get the lead by the stretch call. One to beat.
4. Rockemperor (IRE) (10-1 – Holy Roman Empire (IRE) – Chad Brown / Javier Castellano – 19: 3-5-6 - $639,404) Rock Emperor began his career in Europe, where he started seven times and finished second in a Group 3 race at Longchamp as a 3-year-old in 2019. He came to America that same year and joined the barn of Chad Brown and since then hit the board in seven graded-stakes races. His lone victory in the U.S. was in an allowance race at Belmont this June when he pressed the pace. Brown may have him in the race to ensure an honest pace. Toss.
5. Cross Border (6-1 – English Channel– Mike Maker / Luis Saez – 36: 10-8-5 - $1,023,821) As a 7-year-old millionaire in the field, Cross Border won the Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga in July with a stalking trip. In seven tries at Belmont, he is without a victory, although he has three second-place finishes and a third. He ran in the Joe Hirsch last year and ended up sixth. He might be just a cut below the best horses in this field. Trifecta finish possible.
6. Channel Maker (8-1 – English Channel – Bill Mott / Manny Franco – 41: 7-6-5 - $3,266,551) Channel Maker is the leading money earner in the field based on four Grade 1 victories, including three at Belmont. The 7-year-old will try to win the Joe Hirsch for the second year in a row. He does his best running on the front end, where he challenges the field to try to catch him. Channel Maker is without a victory this year; his best finish was a second in Saudi Arabia. In his two starts since racing twice in the Middle East, he set the pace and faded badly down the stretch. Loves Belmont.
7. Japan (GB) (2-1 – Galileo (IRE) – Aidan O’Brien / Wayne Lordan – 19: 7-1-4 - $2,330,329) The European invader from the barn of Aidan O’Brien finished a neck behind Gufo in his American debut in the Sword Dancer (G1) when he had to alter path at the top of the stretch to get running room. He won a pair of Group 1 races in Europe as a 3-year-old in 2019. Win contender.
Summary: This field has several talented turf runners with Grade 1 level resumes. There should be a legitimate early pace in this 1 1/2-mile race with the late entry of Rockemperor by Chad Brown.
That being said, the horses who are in the best form are the late runners Arklow, Cross Border, Japan and Gufo. With a top performance, they all are all win contenders, but preference goes to Gufo and Japan.
2021 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1)
|Rank||Silks||Horse / Sire||Rating||Trainer / Jockey||Last Start||Status|
|Serve the King|
I. Ortiz, Jr.
Declaration of War
Holy Roman Emperor