Flintshire vs. three in Joe Hirsch Turf Classic
The presence of multiple Grade/Group 1-winning multi-millionaire Flintshire probably accounts for the miniscule field, and the six-year-old finds himself facing some familiar faces in the 1 1/2-mile turf contest.
Flintshire is three-for-three thus far this year and in on course for the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park on November 5. He opened 2016 in the Manhattan Stakes (G1) on June 11, followed a month later with the Bowling Green Stakes (G2), and enters the Joe Hirsch off the Sword Dancer Stakes (G1) on August 27.
Javier Castellano was aboard for that trio of races and retains the mount for trainer Chad Brown.
Money Multiplier and Twilight Eclipse tried Flintshire in the Sword Dancer last out, finishing second and third, respectively.
Money Multiplier has yet to break through with a stakes victory but has been close all year while filling the runner-up spot in the Man o’ War Stakes (G1), United Nations Stakes (G1) and Sword Dancer. Also trained by Brown, the four-year-old son of Lookin at Lucky has steadily increased his BRIS Speed ratings all season, posting a stellar 112 BRIS Speed rating in the Sword Dancer, and gets John Velazquez in the irons on Saturday.
Money Multiplier’s path to the 2016 Turf should look familiar to Twilight Eclipse, who followed a similar schedule en route to the Breeders’ Cup in 2015, taking the Man o’ War before placing in the United Nations, Sword Dancer and Joe Hirsch. Trainer Tom Albertrani decided to shake things up a bit this year, though, sending the seven-year-old gelding to a third-place finish in the Belmont Gold Cup Invitational in June rather than the Manhattan.
Twilight Eclipse then captured an allowance at Belmont in July before running third behind Flintshire in the Bowling Green and Sword Dancer. The bay son of Purim will be making his fourth straight start in the Joe Hirsch having finishing fifth in 2013, second by just a quarter-length in 2014 and third by three parts of a length in 2015. Joel Rosario has the call.
Ectot has gone against Flintshire just once in his 12-race career, running 17th in the 2014 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-G1) while his rival came in second by two lengths behind Treve. Prior to that Ectot had run up a five-race win streak, including the Criterium International (Fr-G1) a year before.
The Todd Pletcher-trained Ectot has yet to find the winner’s circle since before the 2014 Arc, recording just five starts in the interim, but showed signs of his previous form when missing by only a nose last out in a September 4 allowance/optional claimer going the distance on Saratoga’s turf. Jose Ortiz will be holding the reins for the first time in the Joe Hirsch.
Flintshire photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography