Flintshire faces only 3 in Hirsch Turf Clas­sic

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Flintshire’s big­gest op­po­nent in Satur­day’s Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Clas­sic at Bel­mont Park could be Mother Na­ture.

Only three horses were en­tered against Flintshire on Wed­nes­day for the Joe Hirsch, the high­light of an 11-race pro­gram at Bel­mont Park that be­gins at 12:30 p.m. East­ern. Flintshire has al­ready de­feated two of his rivals, sta­ble­mate Money Mul­ti­plier and the hardtry­ing Twi­light Eclipse. Ec­tot, a Group 1 winner three years ago in Europe, com­pletes the field.

Grand Tito, who was ex­pected to run in the Joe Hirsch, was not en­tered due to an in­jury to his right front foot, ac­cord­ing to trainer Gus­tavo Del­gado.

Flintshire was shipped to the U.S. for this sea­son in large part due to his pref­er­ence for firm turf. That’s ex­actly what he got in win­ning the Grade 1 Man­hat­tan here in June and the Grade 2 Bowl­ing Green and Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga in July and Au­gust.

But rain is in the forecast Thurs­day through Satur­day, with as much as an inch possi- ble by Satur­day af­ter­noon.

“He def­i­nitely prefers firm ground,” trainer Chad Brown said Wed­nes­day from Saratoga. “We’ll see how the storm sys­tem de­vel­ops and how much rain in fact we do get. I’m plan­ning on run­ning the horse re­gard­less.”

Flintshire drew the out­side post in the field of four. The race is weight-for-age, so all con­tes­tants will carry 126 pounds.

Ec­tot, whose best races came in 2013-14, will be mak­ing his third start in the U.S. and his third for trainer Todd Pletcher. He was fourth, beaten a length, in the Lure Stakes in Au­gust and was sec­ond, beaten a nose, in an al­lowance race at Saratoga on Sept. 4. He will break from the rail un­der Jose Or­tiz.

Twi­light Eclipse, third to Flintshire in the Bowl­ing Green and Sword Dancer, and Money Mul­ti­plier, who ran a very good sec­ond in the Sword Dancer, break from posts 2 and 3.

The Joe Hirsch, which of­fers a fees-paid berth in the $4 mil­lion Breed­ers’ Cup Turf on Nov. 5 at Santa Anita, goes as race 6 and will not be part of the late pick five.

The prospect of a wet track has trainer Dal­las Ste­wart wa­ver­ing on whether to run prob­a­ble fa­vorite For­ever Un­bri­dled in Satur­day’s Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Stakes at Bel­mont Park.

For­ever Un­bri­dled has never raced on a wet track in 12 ca­reer starts.

“I’m very con­cerned,” said Ste­wart, who trains the horse for Charles Fipke. “I’m try­ing to fig­ure it out. We’ll make the call at the ap­pro­pri­ate time.”

For­ever Un­bri­dled is one of three Grade 1 win­ners en­tered in the Beldame, which does not of­fer a fees-paid berth to the Breed­ers’ Cup Distaff.

Off the Tracks, the winner of the Grade 1 Mother Goose, and Paola Queen, the winner of the Grade 1 Test, are 3-year-olds try­ing older horses for the first time. Go­ing for Broke, sec­ond to Song­bird in the Grade 1 Alabama, is an­other 3-year-old in the field.

The Beldame field, from the rail out, is: Tiger Ride, For­ever Un­bri­dled, Rachel’s Tem­per,

BAR­BARA D. LIV­INGSTON

Flintshire prefers firm turf but might get a soggy course in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Clas­sic.

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