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2013 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational

horse racing
Mike Smith and trainer Dale Romans celebrate after Little Mike won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
Date: 09/28/2013

The $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) is a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Turf. A field of 10 older horses (9 betting interests) contested this 1 1/2 mile trip over Belmont Park's Widener Turf Course. The 3-horse Ramsey Farm entry of Sword Dancer (G1) winner Big Blue Kitten, Arlington Million (G1) runner-up Real Solution, and recent claim Joes Blazing Aaron was sent off as the 9-10 favorite. In to challenge them included 4-1 second choice Slumber, winner of his last two starts in allowance company, and 7-1 third choice Little Mike, last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner but sixth last out in the Arlington Million.
horse racing
Little Mike battles down the stretch

Jockey Rajiv Maragh sent Joes Blazing Aaron to a clear lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.92, 47.70, 1:11.57, and 1:35.70 over the firm course, while stalked by 19-1 King Kreesa and 9-1 Imagining. On the far turn, Joes Blazing Aaron tired badly and dropped back to last, but Little Mike, who setled in fifth early under jockey Mike Smith, moved up to take over the lead through 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.33. Big Blue Kitten, last early, rallied well but Little Mike held him off by a nose in 2:25.00. It was a length back to Real Solution third.

Check out the other races on the card: Jockey Club Gold Cup, The Beldame, The Vosburgh, The Flower Bowl Invitational, and Kelso Handicap.

horse racing
 #  Horse              Jockey          Win  Place   Show
 7  Little Mike        Smith         16.80   5.90   4.70
 2  Big Blue Kitten    Bravo                 2.50   2.20
 2B Real Solution      Garcia                       2.20

Winning Time:  2:25.00

$2 Exacta 7-2                 46.00
$2 Trifecta 7-2-4            173.50
Results Chart

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Little Mike takes his walk down Victory Lane. Winning trainer Dale Romans said, "We've had kind of a rough year, and this is our first Grade 1 of the year. He's finally rounding back into form. His form hasn't been that bad, if you analyze it. They've gone after him early in his last two races. We needed to change tactics and come from off the pace. Nobody was giving us easy leads like they were last year. He just proved how versatile he is. I knew we needed to try something different to get him back to the level where he was last year. It worked, so I want to thank Mr. Ramsey for putting the rabbit (Joes Blazing Aaron) in there and changing things around."

Right: Little Mike in the winner's circle. Jockey Mike Smith said, "I was handicapping the race and after looking at it I told Dale that Little Mike's best race, in the Breeders' Cup Turf last year, was when he was off the pace. So I decided I was going to ride this horse the way Ramon rode him. I can mimic all these jocks; I know how they all hold their hands. Ramon always puts one on the neck and one way out, and he's brilliant at it. So I did it, and he kept running and running and running. It worked! My hat's off to Ramon Dominguez."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Big Blue Kitten in the paddock. Jockey Joe Bravo said, "He's a brave horse." Trainer Chad Brown added, "I thought he got a good trip on the inside. He was a little further back than I anticipated. Joe said he was a little lethargic early in the race. Turning for home, I thought they both had a great chance to win. Little Mike ran a great race today."

Right: Third place finisher Real Solution returns after the race. Trainer Chad Brown said, "I thought both horses ran well. Real Solution had a wide trip, so I have to look how wide he was the whole way; that wasn't ideal."

Check out the other races on the card: Jockey Club Gold Cup, The Beldame, The Vosburgh, The Flower Bowl Invitational, and Kelso Handicap.

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