Gufo (declaration of war) and jockey Joel Rosario win the Sword Dancer in Saratoga.
In the second half of his 4 year season, Gufo from Otter Bend Stables has shown an affinity for 1 1/2 mile turf testing. On Saturday, Gufo will face a number of well-known rivals when it comes to another 12-strain successes in the 44th Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Class 1 for $ 500,000 over the Widener lawn in Belmont Park.
The stag, slated for Race 7, is part of a lucrative 11-race card that also includes Grade 2, $ 250,000 Vosburgh [Race 5], a six-stage sprint for 3-year-olds and up that provides a “win and you are in” berth for the Class 1 Breeders’ Cup sprint on November 6th in Del Mar; and the Grade 3, $ 150,000 Matron [Race 6] with six furlongs on grass for juvenile fillies. The first post on Saturday is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.
Gufo, a recent Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer winner on August 28 at the Saratoga Race Course, has never had a dozen starts with a ledger of 7-2-3 and a lifetime profit of $ 1,138,510 leave the board.
The consistent declaration of war chestnut will face a quality field that includes returning rival Japan as well as former Joe Hirsch Turf Classic winners Channel Maker [2018, 2020] and Arklow .
Trained by Christophe Clement, Gufo scored the best 104 Beyer Speed Figure of his career when he fought off Japan with a neck in the Sword Dancer. The talented turf man raced down the track through the early stages of the sword dancer, gaining ground around the second corner and into the back stretch. He was in command of the three-sixteenths and held Japan’s threatening outside rally.
Prior to the Sword Dancer, Gufo was a one-length winner of the Grand Couturier over 12 stadiums on July 5th in Belmont.
During his second campaign last year, Gufo secured graduated stakes triumphs in nine-stage Grade 3 Kent in Delaware Park and two starts later won the ten-stage Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational.
While the 1½ mile stretch paid off for Gufo, Clement said adding blinkers was beneficial for the grand couturier score as well.
“The blinkers made it a little more maneuverable,” said Clement. “It’s nice to have a horse that is so consistent at this level. As always, we’ll need some racing luck. He’s run well on turf in every grade 1 in New York this year, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a Grade 1 so it’s going to be a tough race by definition, but we’ll be there. “
Joel Rosario, the pilot on board Gufo on six of its 12 launches, will receive the call from Post 3.[Story Continues Below]
Japan is trying to turn the tables on Gufo for coach Aidan O’Brien, who shipped Cape Blanco to the United States to win the 2011 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
Owned by the Coolmore triumvirate Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith in association with Masaaki Matsushima, Japan gradually improved its position during the Sword Dancer, trying to keep Gufo one-nose short in the final furlong.
The 5-year-old son of Galileo was a two-time winner of Group 1 in 2019 and defeated three other Group 1 winners at Juddmonte International in York in August 2019. He won the Group 1 Grand Prix De Paris in Longchamp in May 2019.
Without a win in five starts in 2020, Japan has regained its form of victory this season with two triumphs in Group 3. In his season arc, he won the Ormonde on May 6th in Chester, three starts before a victory in the Meld on July 15th in Leopardstown.
“The twists and turns in Saratoga have caused him no inconvenience,” said O’Brien’s travel assistant TJ Comerford. “He’s been walking around Chester in England, which has pretty tight turns. He probably didn’t make the race at the desired time. He survived well. He’s going the right way. He is training well and Aidan is very happy with him. All he has to do is run like last time and that gives him a good chance. “
Wayne Lordan is embarking to ride from Post 7.
Channel Maker, a seven-year-old seven-year-old who won five rated bets, captured both Joe Hirsch and Sword Dancer last year before a third place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf, earning him the honor of Champion Turf Horse.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Channel Maker won both of his respective Joe Hirsch Turf Classics in wire-to-wire fashion and garnered the best 108 Beyers of his career.
After beating a field of four Grade 1 winners of 4½ lengths in 2018, Channel Maker took his second win at Joe Hirsch Turf Classic two years later, winning 2¼ lengths under Manny Franco. He joined his father English Channel in a compact group of horses and won several Joe Hirsch races. A triumph that year would make Channel Maker the only horse to win three times.
Channel Maker, one of five millionaires in the space, has the largest bankroll with a profit of $ 3,266,551. He is also the most experienced among his competitors with a record of 41-7-6-5.
Franco will drive from Post 6.
Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger and the estate of Peter Coneways Arklow, the 2019 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic winner, will vie for Channel Maker and Vals Prince [1997, 99] as horses to win non-consecutive Joe Hirsch Turf Classics.
Brad Cox-trained, sturdy 7-year-old son of Arch secured his only Grade 1 victory when he defeated Channel Maker by half a length two years ago.
With a ledger of 35-9-8-2, Arklow has won at least one rated stakes race every year since 2017. After finishing his six year season with a Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup win in November in Del. Having finished March, Arklow made his season bow when he turned on March 15.
Arklow arrives at Kentucky Downs on September 11 at the Grade 3 Calumet Turf Cup, a race he won in 2018 and 2020, with a late finishing second.
“He had a tough trip last time at Kentucky Downs, but he drove a really good race,” said Cox. “He came out of the race in good shape and did two nice jobs on the Belmont lawn. He’s made nearly $ 3 million in his career and it would be exciting to win this race for the second time. “
Jose Lezcano picks up the post 2 mount.
On the hunt for his third win for Joe Hirsch, coach Chad Brown will saddle Serve the King [post 1, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and rock emperor [post 4, Javier Castellano].
Peter Brant’s Serve the King last won his first stakes win at the August 25 restricted John’s Call in Saratoga, which he won in half-length. Kingman’s easily ridden 5 year old son has a consistent record of 9-4-1-1.
Rockemperor, owned by Madaket Stable, Michael Dubb, Wonder Stable, Michael E. Kisber and Michael J. Caruso, finished fourth in the Sword Dancer. The seven-time stakes-placed son of the Holy Roman Emperor last found the winner on the 26th. He will ride without blinkers on Saturday.
The field completes the Cross Border of Three Diamonds Farm, who contests a third place in the Sword Dancer for trainer Mike Maker. Not placed in the last two Joe Hirsch Turf Classics, the New York-bred 7-year-old took wins with consecutive wins at Grade 2 Bowling Green in Saratoga [2020-21].
Cross Border was bred in New York by Berkshire Stud and BD Gibbs. Luis Saez will ride from Post 5.
The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational is in honor of the late journalist, founding president of the National Turf Writers Association, and recipient of the Eclipse Award of Merit. named . The press stand on the Saratoga Race Course is named after Hirsch.
America’s Day at the Races will feature daily coverage and analysis of the Fall Meet at Belmont Park on FOX Sports networks. The full schedule can be found at https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.
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