Equibase Analysis: Beach Patrol Hopes To Use Joe Hirsch Turf Classic As Springboard To Breeders’ Cup

The 41st running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic brings together a field of 11 all hoping to win and earn a starting spot in the $4 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf in five weeks. With five grade 1 (North America) or group 1 (Europe) stakes winners in the field, sorting them out may be a difficult task but a few have top credentials others lack. Leading the group based on current form is Sadler’s Joy, winner of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes last month at Saratoga. Money Multiplier led briefly in that race and had to settle for second, having won the Grade 2 Monmouth Stakes prior to that. Beach Patrol finished a half-length ahead of Fanciful Angel (IRE) in the Grade 1 Arlington Million in August, both trying the marathon distance of a mile and one-half for the very first time. Oscar Performance is also entering the race off a big win, in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes, and is not only running this distance for the first time but also facing older foes for the first time as all his previous nine starts have been against his own age group. Ascend won the Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes in June at odds of 27 to 1 but has run poorly in two races since, most recently when fifth behind Beach Patrol. The Grey Gatsby (IRE) hopes to recapture earlier glory, as he was a multiple group 1 stakes winner in 2014 but has not found the winner’s circle in the last three years. Mekhtaal (GB) makes his second start in the United States and although badly beaten when 10th in the Arlington Million, earned a win at this level in the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan Stakes in May. Channel Maker, Converge and Tricked Up round out the field.

Mekhtaal was well regarded by the betting public when making his U.S. debut last month in the Arlington Million but at 5 to 1 odds never rallied and finished 10th in the field of 12. Still, he was beaten just three and three-quarter lengths to earn a 111 Equibase Speed Figure. Two races prior to that, Mekhtaal won the Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly Racecourse in France with a 119 figure before a sixth-place finish (beaten just three and one-quarter lengths) to the much more accomplished Highland Reel in the Prince of Wales Stakes at Ascot. Perhaps Mekhtaal wasn’t fully acclimated to U.S. racing before the Million, but I expect a return to top form now that he is in the care of trainer Graham Motion and adds Lasix for the first time. I’ll talk about Fanciful Angel in the next paragraph, but considering Mekhtaal ran much better and against much better in his past races than Fanciful Angel and considering how Fanciful Angel added Lasix for his U.S. debut in the Million and finished second at 73 to 1, I believe if the real Mekhtaal shows up, he can win the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.

Fanciful Angel made 23 starts before his runner-up effort last month in the Arlington Million with a career best 116 figure, including just a handful of group 2 or 3 races (compared to six group 1 or 2 starts for Mekhtaal). However, he really liked the local footing in the Million as he rallied from last of 12 in the early stages to miss by a half-length at the finish. Privately purchased since then and now in the barn of Chad Brown, Fanciful Angel should also benefit from a change in jockey from his European rider to one much more familiar with the Belmont turf course in Irad Ortiz, Jr. Likely to improve in his second stateside race, Fanciful Angel should be a serious contender in this race.

Beach Patrol is a multiple grade 1 stakes winner with earnings of $1.4 million. He is almost always competitive down to the wire as he has only finished worse than third on three occasions in 15 career races. Beach Patrol ran the best race of his career (117) when finishing second (only to be disqualified for bumping another horse late) in the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in February, nearly duplicating that figure but running even better in terms of finish position when victorious in the Arlington Million last month. Joel Rosario rode Beach Patrol for only the second time in his career in that race and for the first time in 14 months, and he should once again have this tremendous competitor in a great position to win in the last eighth of a mile. The main question is whether Beach Patrol can run as well at a mile and one-half, which he is trying for the first time, as he has been running at shorter distances.

Sadler’s Joy and Money Multiplier finished first and second, respectively, in the Sword Dancer Stakes at this distance last month at Saratoga, both earning 106 figures. Although Money Multiplier got first run on the eventual winner (starting his rally from fifth while Sadler’s Joy was seventh) and led in the stretch, Sadler’s Joy had a bigger kick and prevailed by a half-length. Both have positive experience at the distance and that can be invaluable so I would not rule either out as contenders, particularly when considering exotic wagers like the exacta and trifecta in this race.

The rest of the Joe Hirsch field, with their best representative  figures is: Ascend (110), Channel Maker (103), Converge (99), Oscar Performance (113), The Grey Gatsby (111) and Tricked Up (106).

Contenders to win in preference/probability order:
Mekhtaal
Fanciful Angel
Beach Patrol
Sadler’s Joy
Money Multiplier

The post Equibase Analysis: Beach Patrol Hopes To Use Joe Hirsch Turf Classic As Springboard To Breeders’ Cup appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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