March to the Breeders’ Cup continues at Belmont
By NY Hot List Staff
The march to the Breeders’ Cup continues in full force at Belmont Park this weekend with a package of eight stakes on Saturday and Sunday.
The Saturday card features five stakes, four of them graded.
Two Grade 1 stakes top the card in the form of the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the $500,000 Champagne Stakes for 2-year-olds. Both races will award the winner a free spot in a Breeders; Cup race through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series.
The Champagne drew a field of seven for the one-turn, one-mile test with Green Light Go rating as the 8-5 favorite. A winner of both career starts for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, Green Light Go has not raced since Aug. 10 when he rolled to a 3 ¾-length victory in the Saratoga Special.
Prior to that, the 2-year-old colt posted a 3 1/4-length maiden victory at Belmont Park.
One of the top threats should be Tiz the Law (5-2), who romped by 4 ¼ lengths against New York State-breds in his career debut at Saratoga.
Alpha Sixty Six (5-1) also exits a debut victory as he won a Sept. 7 maiden race for trainer Todd Pletcher.
The field also includes Three Technique (7-2), who broke through with a 5 1/2-length score in an Aug. 31 maiden race at Saratoga in his third career start. Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Three Technique is owned by Bill Parcells, who coached the New York Giants to a pair of Super Bowl victories.
Also on hand will be Gozilla (6-1), who was favored in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes and set the early pace but tired and wound up third.
The Joe Hirsch also drew seven starters and promised to be a wide-open, competitive affair.
The likely favorite is Sadler’s Joy, who is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. In his last start the 6-year-old horse lost by neck in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga.
The highly consistent Arklow (3-1) also figures to be in the picture. The 5-year-old has raced in graded stakes in his last four starts and has finished second three times and third once. He is coming off a second in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs.
Channel Maker (7-2) won last year’s Joe Hirsch by 4 ½ lengths and will chase back-to-back wins in the mile and a half turf stakes. Returning to Belmont Park will be a big boost to his chances as the 5-year-old has just two wins in his last nine starts and both came at Belmont Park.
Channel Cat (9-2) is in career-best form for trainer Todd Pletcher. He was third in the Sword Dancer in his last start and won the Grade 2 Bowling Green and finished third by less than a length in the Grade 1 United Nations before that.
Saturday’s card also includes the Grade 2 $400,000 Hill Prince Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf, the $150,000 Matron Stakes for 2-year-old fillies on turf and the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational on the turf.
The 10-race card begins at 12:20 p.m.