Hot Stones steps up to ma­jors

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE -

EL­MONT, N.Y. – In the Grade 1 Man­hat­tan, it was Slum­ber over Big Blue Kit­ten. In the Grade 1 United Na­tions, it was Big Blue Kit­ten over Slum­ber. In the Grade 1 Ar­ling­ton Mil­lion, it was a near miss for Big Blue Kit­ten and an­ni­hi­la­tion for Slum­ber.

On Satur­day, Big Blue Kit­ten and Slum­ber will be in the start­ing gate to­gether for the fourth con­sec­u­tive time when they face the surg­ing Red Ri­fle, the con­sis­tent Twi­light Eclipse, and four oth­ers in the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Clas­sic at Bel­mont Park.

The Joe Hirsch, at 1 1/2 miles, is one of five graded stakes on an 11-race pro­gram that starts at 12:55 p.m. Eastern.

Big Blue Kit­ten and Slum­ber, both trained by Chad Brown, will again have a pace­maker in the field in the form of Shin­ing Cop­per, who fin­ished third in the Ar­ling­ton Mil­lion and fourth in the United Na­tions. Brown also trains Shin­ing Cop­per.

Big Blue Kit­ten has a 3-2- 0 record from six starts at Bel­mont. He fin­ished fourth to Main Se­quence in last year’s Joe Hirsch Turf Clas­sic.

“He emerged from the Mil­lion in great shape,” Brown said. “I like him on this course, yes, but there are other cour­ses I like him on, too. He ran re­ally well at Ar­ling­ton even though he was sec­ond best.”

Big Blue Kit­ten will break from post 3 un­der Joe Bravo.

Slum­ber fin­ished fourth in the 2013 Joe Hirsch – a race in which Big Blue Kit­ten was beaten a nose by Lit­tle Mike – but did win the Man­hat­tan over this turf course.

Slum­ber was nearly put over the rail in the Ar­ling­ton Mil­lion, emerg­ing with lac­er­a­tions that “were pretty sig­nif­i­cant,” Brown said. “Thank­fully, he’s healed up from them and looks okay.”

Slum­ber will leave from post 5 un­der Irad Or­tiz Jr.

Red Ri­fle, the run­ner-up in the Sword Dancer, has the rail. Twi­light Eclipse, beaten a nose in this race last year, has post 4. Per­fect Ti­tle and Quiet Force com­plete the field.

Hot Stones, the dom­i­nant 9 1/4-length win­ner of the Saratoga Dew Stakes for New York-breds at Saratoga, will take on Grade 1 win­ners Wed­ding Toast and Cu­ralina in Satur­day’s Grade 1, $400,000 Bel­dame Stakes.

Hot Stones tried Grade 1 com­pany last year and fin­ished last in the Grade 1 Bal­le­rina at Saratoga. She wrenched an an­kle in that race and, af­ter two losses to be­gin her sea­son, has won her last two im­pres­sively.

“I’ll take the blame for her two defeats this year,” trainer Bruce Levine said. “She just wasn’t as fit as I thought she was.”

Wed­ding Toast makes her first start since win­ning the Grade 1 Og­den Phipps go­ing 1 1/16 miles here on Bel­mont Stakes Day. She missed a lit­tle train­ing time dur­ing the sum­mer when she was be­ing pointed to the Per­sonal En­sign but has been work­ing regularly since Aug. 20.

Cu­ralina won the Grade 1 Acorn here on Bel­mont Stakes Day.

Com­plet­ing the field are Call Pat, the Groupie Doll Stakes win­ner, and Catch My Drift, the Sum­mer Colony Stakes win­ner.

The Bel­dame will go as the fifth race.

Sa­lu­tos Ami­gos eyes up­set

Rock Fall looks to be a solid fa­vorite in Satur­day’s Grade 1, $400,000 Vosburgh Stakes at six fur­longs. He has won six straight races, in­clud­ing the Al­fred G. Van­der­bilt by a nose over The Big Beast.

But trainer David Jacobson isn’t con­ced­ing any­thing to Rock Fall. Jacobson will send out Sa­lu­tos Ami­gos and Stall­walkin’ Dude in the Vosburgh, which awards the win­ner a fees-paid berth in the Breed­ers’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland on Oct. 31.

“Put it this way: If Sa­lu­tos Ami­gos shows up with his ‘A’ game, it’s go­ing to be a good race,” Jacobson said.

Af­ter re­turn­ing from Dubai, where he fin­ished eighth in the Golden Sha­heen, Sa­lu­tos Ami­gos won a stakes at Mon­mouth Park be­fore fin­ish­ing fourth to Rock Fall in the Van­der­bilt and fifth to Pri­vate Zone in the Grade 1 Forego. Sa­lu­tos Ami­gos will break from post 6 in the Vosburgh.

Rock Fall, who is 3 for 3 at Bel­mont, in­clud­ing a pow­er­ful win in the Grade 2 True North, drew the out­side post in the seven-horse field.

Palace, Wild­cat Red, Week­end Hide­away, and Brother­sof­t­hetime com­plete the field.

Clas­sic Point re­turns

Clas­sic Point, away from the races since March, when she won the Grade 2 In­side In­for­ma­tion Stakes, re­turns in Satur­day’s Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Hand­i­cap seek­ing her fourth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory.

Trainer Jimmy Jerkens said Clas­sic Point had some is­sues with ty­ing up in­ter­nally when she re­turned from Florida this win­ter, but she ap­pears to be in good shape now.

“She’s the heav­i­est I’ve ever seen her,” said Jerkens, who cred­ited his as­sis­tant Steve Moyer with get­ting the filly “pointed in the right di­rec­tion.”

Clas­sic Point, who drew post 6 in the seven-horse field of fil­lies and mares, will take on La Ver­dad, who is 4 for 4 this year; Dame Dorothy, who won the Grade 1 Hu­mana Distaff; and Room for Me, who has gone from $12,500 claimer to graded stakes-placed. Oth­ers en­tered are Street Story, Wavell Av­enue, and Wil­let.


Big Blue Kit­ten, scor­ing a 1 1/2-length vic­tory in the Grade 1 United Na­tions at Mon­mouth in July, will meet Slum­ber for the fourth straight time in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Clas­sic.

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