JOE HIRSCH TURF CLASSIC | PURSE: $600,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 1 | 1 1/2 MILES (TURF)
Point of Entry solidified his status as the best turf runner North America has seen this year with a clear victory in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes Sept. 29 at Belmont Park. The score for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was a fifth in a row from the Phipps Stable homebred, and his third consecutive Grade 1 score.
"We always thought he was a nice horse, we just had to be patient with him," McGaughey said.
The 3-5 favorite ran 1 1/2 miles on the turf in 2:33.73 under John Velazquez, refusing to be deterred by the race-riding tactics of European jockey Jamie Spencer aboard Treasure Beach, who floated him wide to the center of the track as the field turned for home. He exits the Joe Hirsch with a "Win and You're In" berth to the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park Nov. 3.
The race set up much as expected for the 4-year-old Dynaformer colt, as Arlington Million winner Little Mike struck the lead with his frontrunning style and tried stretching out to the distance for the first time. Setting moderate early fractions of :25.70 and :51.99, Little Mike only held on through three-quarters in 1:18.16 before Treasure Beach ranged up to grab the lead, going a mile in 1:43.67.
As the field turned for home, Treasure Beach drifted out through 1 1/4 miles in 2:08.29 and Kindergarten Kid ranged up on the rail. But Velazquez set Point of Entry down to the task on the far outside, and the top turf contender gave it his all, ranging clear ahead at the eighth pole to win driving away.
Point of Entry returned $3.50, $2.50, and $2.10 while Treasure Beach paid $4.30 and $2.90 and Kindergarten Kid brought $5.10. Finnegans Wake, Little Mike, and Hailstone completed the order of finish.
Bred in Kentucky out of the Seeking the Gold mare Matlacha Pass, Point of Entry improved his career record to 7-2-1 from 14 starts. He entered the Joe Hirsch off a victory in the Aug. 18 Sword Dancer Invitational and also won the Man o' War Stakes at Belmont and the Elkhorn at Keeneland earlier this year.