Breeders' Cup Turf winner Little Mike fought off a late charge from Big Blue Kitten along the rail to win the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park. The Hirsch began with a flurry as Joes Blazing Aaron blazed through rapid fractions of 23.92, 47.70 and 1:11.57 over the first half of the mile and a half journey. Little Mike, content to sit off the pace much like he did at the Breeders' Cup last fall, made a strong move to the lead coming off the far turn and then held off all comers through a grueling stretch drive.
The victory for Little Mike reverses a really bad stretch of form that saw him lose four straight races after his Breeders' Cup triumph. He was a non-factor in Dubai for two events and then ran so-so in both the G1-United Nations and the G1-Arlington Million. That poor stretch certainly caused me to doubt the ability of Little Mike to return to his Grade 1 form but with his win in the Hirsch, Little Mike is clearly not done winning big races.
Little Mike is a six-year-old gelding by Spanish Steps out of a Wavering Monarch mare (Hay Jude), trained by Dale Romans and ridden by Mike Smith.
The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic is a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Turf.
Below are the payouts for the Hirsch Turf:
|2-Big Blue Kitten||$2.50||$2.20|
|Base||Bet||Combo||Payout||Pays to -|