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Saturday Survivors

Posted by on 9/29/2015 12:11:38 AM

Super Saturday at Belmont last weekend will surely produce some major players in Keeneland’s Breeders’ Cup on Halloween weekend and those races should be scrutinized.

The Joe Hirsch Invitational used to be called the Turf Classic and has been won by some legends like Waya, Bowl Game, All Along, John Henry, Theatrical and England Channel.

In this year’s Hirsch Big Blue Kitten, who lost by a nose in this race in 2013 and was the beaten chalk in this event last year, got sweet revenge under a clever ride by Jersey Joe Bravo.

The jockey opened up 3 lengths at the top of the lane and held together by just under a length to win as the 2nd choice.

The rider of the favorite Red Rifle lost his whip and eventually the race.

Glasses were tapped, dancing was available and there was joy in the winner’s circle after the Grade 1 Beldame as Wedding Toast added to her stellar record. She won the Grade 1 event, a prep for the BC Distaff, in game style making it 8 for 12 in her career and winning her second straight Grade 1.

She got the 9 furlongs in 1:47.67 under a great ride by Jose Lezcano. The pilot coaxed her on the lead early, opened up 3 lengths at the top of the lane and had enough left to win by 2 and three quarter lengths over the second choice Curalina.

Wedding Toast’s trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was confident going into the Beldame, McLaughlin: “I don't say it very often, but I asked him not to give her a hard race if he didn't have to because she looked that good on paper. We have a big race in five weeks. Couldn't have asked for better. It really went perfect.”

This was the fastest Beldame since Riboletta took this fixture in 2000.

The Vosburgh featured some of the best sprinters in the East and although Rock Fall kept rolling, he had to work for the glory holding on by just a neck as the prohibitive 2/5 favorite.

Rock Fall seemed to fall into a good trip sitting third early behind a 10 and 28-1 shot. He was going tooth and nail with Stallwalkin’ Dude and it looked like that rival had put him away when Rock Fall found another gear and just held on.

Time for the Grade 1 6-furlong sprint was 1:08.70 and that stands up very well to the recent efforts in this fixture.

Private Zone won the 2013 running of the Vosburgh in 1:08.02 and you have to go back to 2006 for a faster time than this year when Henny Hughes was clocked in 1:08.13.

Some of the juvenile that lined up in the mile and sixteenth Pilgrim on grass Saturday will head to the BC Juvenile Turf and it will be a heck of a race.

Saturday there were 3 horses on the finish line as Isotherm got the money at 9-1. Azar finished a neck back and the Ascot invader Ray’s the Bar was another neck back.

Azar bobbled early or it could have been a different outcome and Ray’s the Bar was forced to steady when he found himself behind a wall of horses.

If Ray’s the Bar gets to Keeneland, give him the double take. His dam was a non-winner but the dam is kin to nearly $800,000 earner Smoking Sun and this runner is in the right barn of Chad Brown.

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