Beach Patrol and Fanciful Angel, one-two finishers in a Grade 1 for the second time in a row on Saturday, exited Belmont Park’s Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) in good order, according to trainer Chad Brown.
Beach Patrol got the win by five lengths over his stablemate, putting much more distance between the two than when they were separated by only a half-length in the Arlington Million (G1) on August 12. Fanciful Angel was trained by Marco Botti for that contest but switched to Brown after his Arlington Park foray.
“He’s still a little headstrong, but (jockey) Irad (Ortiz Jr.) did a really good job to keep him in cover and settle the horse throughout the race,” Brown said of Fanciful Angel. “It’s something we can work on. I’m happy that he stayed the distance. It was a question mark for both, and I was very pleased with it.”
Oscar Performance came out of his third-place run in the 1 1/2-mile contest well, trainer Brian Lynch said Sunday. The bay ridgling just missed second by a nose to Fanciful Angel.
“It seemed like he had good energy this morning and never left an oat, so everything looks like he’s in good condition,” Lynch said. “I was very proud of him. I thought he was a tad unlucky not to be second. It wasn’t his ideal trip. I was concerned with the construct of the race with the rabbit in it, but we’re all very happy with his performance.”
Oscar Performance was seeking his third straight Grade 1 win and fourth straight graded victory in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. The Kitten’s Joy sophomore captured the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) on June 3, then added the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and Arlington’s Secretariat Stakes (G1) to his resume in his last pair.
Oscar Performance made his first start against his elders in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, which was a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), and might try again in that November 4 championship event at Del Mar.
“It’s on the radar but nothing is confirmed yet,” Lynch said.
Sadler’s Joy was also doing well one day after his fourth-place effort in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. The Tom Albertrani-trained four-year-old broke in last on Saturday but rallied under jockey Julien Leparoux to be just a length behind Oscar Performance on the wire.
Sadler’s Joy remains on target for the Breeders’ Cup Turf, a race he earned an automatic berth to when capturing the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on August 26.
“The winner won easy, but we were still right there for second, he just had a lot to make up,” Albertrani said. “He got off a little slow and he was a little further back than we probably needed to be, he had a lot to make up. He was 13 lengths or so back when they were turning for home. He made a nice run but he was still far back. Julien thought maybe the ground wasn’t to his liking, so a couple of things that might have gone on there, but I thought he ran well.
“It’s all good. He came out great. It still keeps us in the race at the Breeders’ Cup. We’ll see how he is when he goes back to the track. Just kind of see what his energy level is like and we’ll make a plan.”
According to Albertrani, Sadler’s Joy will train at Belmont before shipping to Southern California on October 29.
Though not a “Win & You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), the Beldame Stakes (G1) one race before the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic may have produced a runner for that championship contest after Elate romped by 8 1/4 lengths for trainer Bill Mott.
Like Oscar Performance, the Medaglia d’Oro filly sophomore was facing her elders for the first time in the Beldame. She came out of the nine-furlong affair in good order, according to Mott.
“It was a good day,” Mott said. “We’re very happy with her. She looks good. She’s on her way to Saratoga. We’ll train her, but I haven’t talked to anybody (owners/breeders Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider). I’m assuming they would probably like to go to the Breeders’ Cup. That’s my guess. That would be our plan I would think. She’ll go up there and start training and we’ll go from there. We’ve got a whole month.
“She’s really come on the second half of the year I’d say,” the horseman added. “She’s kind of ready for her job now. Her form indicates that too, she’s coming the right way. Maybe I was surprised early in the year that she didn’t come on quicker than she did. That would’ve been the only surprise.”
While the Beldame wasn’t a “Win & You’re In” contest, the Vosburgh Stakes (G1) awarded Takaful an all-fees paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) as part of the Challenge series.
The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee, one of only two sophomores in the seven-horse field, was doing well one day after his length victory over 6-5 favorite El Deal.
“When (jockey) Jose (Ortiz) came to the paddock,” McLaughlin explained, “I asked him what he thought, and he said, ‘We’re fast, it’s only six furlongs and we’re going to be pretty close to him.’ And I said, great. He decided to be very close to him and it worked out. Jose had a lot of confidence in the horse. El Deal ran well and so did the third-place finisher (Stallwalkin’ Dude).”
Takaful earned his first stakes win in this spot, having finished second in the H. Allen Jerkens Memorial Stakes (G1) last out at Saratoga on August 26.
“It was a great win, we’re excited. He’s not the easiest horse to train, but (assistant trainer) Joe Lee, his exercise rider Eduardo Delgado, and the whole team have done a great job with him,” McLaughlin acknowledged. “He was difficult for us down in Florida. He was tough on himself. He was too keen, got cuts in his mouth, had a few feet issues – this, that, and the other. No injuries, he was just hard on himself.
“Luckily, (owner) Shadwell just let us stop on him. We walked him for a few weeks then jogged for a few weeks, just to get his battery fully recharged and be able to train on, and it’s gone very well.”
McLaughlin also sent out Celtic Chaos to finish fourth in the Vosburgh on Saturday.
“Celtic Chaos ran well too to be fourth,” he said. “That was his first try against open company and the first Grade 1 for (owner) Zilla (Racing Stable), so it was nice that he ran well. That’s his style to come from last and he likes the track wet, so everything was in place for him to run a big race.”
While Celtic Chaos is destined for the $150,000 Hudson Stakes at Belmont Park on October 21, Takaful will train for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Belmont before catching the last flight to Del Mar on October 31.
“We’ll have all his training done, so when we get there, he might go out and gallop one day and jog another day,” McLaughlin said. “He’s comfortable here, so we’ll get there as close as we can to the race.”
Mr. Crow, sixth as the near 3-1 second choice in the Vosburgh for trainer Todd Pletcher after capturing his last pair at Saratoga by a combined 17 3/4 lengths, came out of his subpar effort in good order.
“I’m a little perplexed with his performance,” Pletcher admitted. “He didn’t break great, but got into the position we wanted him to be, which is stalking behind the two main speed and then he just seemed to flatten out down the lane. He’s come back well though and we’ll regroup.”
Seabhac and Maraud, the respective first- and third-place finishers in Saturday’s Pilgrim Stakes (G3), exited that 8 1/2-furlong inner turf race for juveniles in fine fettle, according to Pletcher.
“Everybody seemed to be in good order this morning,” Pletcher said. “(Seabhac) had a tough trip (when fourth) in the (August 30) With Anticipation (G3), he just got stopped at a critical time around the quarter-pole and lost position. He re-rallied to run well and we feel like the addition of blinkers yesterday made that little bit of a difference he needed.
“I thought Maraud ran well for only his second start. It was a really good effort. Johnny (Velazquez) felt like the ground slipped away from him a little bit in the late stretch but it was a good effort.”
The Brown-trained Voting Control could be headed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) on November 3 at Del Mar after finishing second in the Pilgrim, a half-length behind Seabhac and a neck up on Maraud.
“It was a good effort, just a terrible start,” Brown said in reference to Voting Control being squeezed at the start. “The six-horse (Maraud) just knocked him sideways leaving there. It was unlucky circumstances. I thought he was best. He seems to be OK. He’s a little cut up from that, but it’s not bad. I’m inclined to take him to the Breeders’ Cup as long as he draws well.”