Leaving nothing to chance, Beach Patrol drew off in the stretch from a field of international rivals to record a resounding five-length win in the $500,000, Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes on Sept. 30 at Belmont Park.
The victory came on the heels of a half-length triumph in the Aug. 12 Arlington Million XXXV Stakes that ended a perplexing six-race losing streak and had earned Beach Patrol a fees-paid spot in the $4-million Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“For a horse that faced a lot of question marks about his ability at a mile and a half, he was mighty impressive today. He showed he can run all day,” Brown said. “He handled the little cut in the ground from the rain we had today, but he’s not the kind of horse that shows me he needs that. If anything, he’s a firm-ground horse. I’m not as worried about him handling the track at Del Mar as I am the competition. He’ll face the top horses in the world but he deserves a spot with them. He’ll be formidable.”
Brown, the nation’s premier turf trainer, could have a second starter at Del Mar in the Nov. 4 World Championships in Fanciful Angel. Privately purchased by a group including Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, Madaket Stables, and Bethlehem Stables after a runner-up finish in the Arlington Million and transferred to Brown, Fanciful Angel grabbed second by a nose over the 3-year-old multiple Grade 1 winner Oscar Performance, whose three-race winning streak came to an end.
“I want to take a look at Fanciful Angel,” Brown said. “If I see improvement in him between now and then, it’s worth considering the Breeders’ Cup Turf. He’s a work in progress.”
Beach Patrol, owned by a partnership of Sheep Pond Partners, James Covello, and Head of Plains Partners, was much like Fanciful Angel not too long ago. After winning the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington International Racecourse a year ago, the son of Lemon Drop Kid finished second in three of his next four races, a stretch that included this year’s Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes and the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last December.
The slide continued with a fourth in the June 10 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes and a third in the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes in July at Monmouth Park in July. Yet in all six of those losses, Beach Patrol showed some courage and determination, losing by less than 1 3/4 lengths in all of them.
“I usually don’t make excuses for my horses, but he had some unfavorable trips,” said Brown. “He was very unlucky in some spots.”
Brown also made a wise move before the Arlington Million, reuniting Beach Patrol with jockey Joel Rosario for the first time since June of the colt’s 3-year-old season. The rider switch worked wonders as Beach Patrol snapped his six-race losing streak with a determined half-length win in the Million.
The Joe Hirsch took the partnership to new heights as Rosario masterfully kept Beach Patrol in second as outclassed 147-1 longshot Converge dashed out to a seven-length lead after a quick half-mile in :48.23, then steered his mount to the front approaching the quarter pole and pulled away to an easy victory in the stretch.
“When we moved him over to Joel and Joel got to know him, particularly in his last two starts, he’s really found some chemistry with this horse,” Brown said. “Their relationship has had a lot to do with Beach Patrol’s success in the second half of the year.”
“He’s a son of Bernardini and with that type of pedigree you had to try to stretch him out,” he said.
A third-place finish in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes was promising, but at age 3 the longer distances compounded with some quirky training habits caught up with Takaful. After dismal losses in the Grade 3 Jerome Stakes and Grade 2 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes, McLaughlin opted for Plan B.
Facing older horses for the first time, Takaful outdueled 1.30-1 favorite El Deal to prevail by a length and capture the Vosburgh Stakes at Belmont Park, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge series “Win and You’re In” race.
“From his first race, I thought he could be a grade 1 sprinter," said McLaughlin. "He’s a special horse and I’m so happy to win a Grade 1 for [owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum] and [Shadwell vice president/manager] Rick Nichols and all of Shadwell. They’ve all been patient.
“To win a Grade 1 with anyone is great but to win a Grade 1 against older horses with a 3-year-old is very special.”
Typically a front-runner, as he was when he finished second to Practical Joke in the Aug. 26 H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, Takaful showed a new dimension in tracking the pace-setting El Deal through fractions of :22.31 and :44.76 for a half-mile and then outfinishing Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap winner El Deal in the final furlong.—Bob Ehalt
Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Stakes: Maybe the race for the 3-year-old filly championship isn’t a walkover, after all.
Elate, who was beaten by a head by pro-tem division leader Abel Tasman in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks before scoring a powerful 5 1/2-length win in the Grade 1 Alabama Stakes, notched an even more impressive victory in the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park.
Stuck behind horses at the top of the stretch, the 3-year-old daughter of Medaglia d’Oro bulled through a small hole between rivals at the three-sixteenths pole and then rocketed to an 8 1/4-length score in her first — and highly successful — test against older females.
“It was amazing,” said Walker Hancock, president of Claiborne Farm, which owns and bred the filly along with Adele B. Dilschneider. “There were some anxious moments certainly at the quarter-pole. She was the one to beat and they were doing their best to keep her locked up, but once she got some room she exploded.”
After a 12 1/2-length victory in her lone start at two, Elate lost her first four starts at three, including a nightmare outing in the Grade 1 Central Bank Ashland Stakes in April when Ortiz pulled her up after he thought she took a bad step. But after a decisive win in the Light Hearted Stakes at Delaware Park in June, her stellar efforts in her last three top-level outings have elevated her to upper echelon of the division.
“She was good enough to get through that hole and the rest is history,” Mott said. “I was glad to see the acceleration she showed today. It’s something that’s improved as the year has gone on and something she lacked early in the year. In the first few races of the year she was grinder, a steady mover. Now she’s showing the speed she always had but she never knew how to never put it all together. She’s a maturing filly and she’s getting better with each start. Today was a good effort.”
Up next figures to be the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, where Elate figures to meet rival Abel Tasman, Grade 1 Cotillion Stakes winner It Tiz Well, and champion Stellar Wind in the Nov. 3 race at Del Mar.
“I don’t think anyone would argue with me for saying we want to go on to the Breeders’ Cup,” Mott said. “We have to point her in that direction after we see how she comes out of it.”—Bob Ehalt
Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes: Making only his third career start and wearing blinkers for the first time, Donegal Racing’s Seabhac rallied late to earn his first career victory in the Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park.
Breaking from post-position four with Luis Saez aboard, the pair stalked from second position as Looking Ready led the field of eight through fractions of :24.61 for the opening quarter-mile, with the half-mile in :49.51.
At the quarter-pole, stablemate Maraud began to make a run toward the leader, shifting from the two-path to the rail, while 1.35-1 post-time favorite Voting Control began to make his way from the back of the pack.
Grabbing the lead at the eighth-pole, Seabhac held off a late-charging Voting Control to secure the victory by half a length.
The winning time for the 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf was 1:43.48.
“It was pretty exciting,” Saez said. “When I asked him at the three-eighths, he just took off. When he came into the stretch he was running. I can’t wait to ride him next time.”
Returning $12.80 for a $2 win wager, the son of Scat Daddy boosted his career earnings to $144,100.—BloodHorse Staff