Arklow picked up his first career Grade 1 win with his first victory of the year in Saturday’s $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
Owned by Donegal Racing, Joseph Bulger, and Pete Coneway, the hard-trying 5-year-old finally got the dream trip he was waiting for under new rider Junior Alvarado after previously finishing second by a neck twice on the Widener turf course this year in the Grade 1 Man o’ War in May and the Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup in June.
“I thought Junior did a good job,” said conditioner Brad Cox. “The only thing we told him is that he’s a little slow getting out of the gate, but Junior did a good job getting him in a good spot and comfortable to where he finished well.”
The victory marked the third Grade 1 victory this year for Cox, who said he would make a decision soon on pointing to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
“I’m just really happy for the connections,” said Cox. “He’s a horse that’s been consistent his entire career and especially this year. He always brings his ‘A’ game and he’s really run well in all his races. It’s nice to see everyone involved getting to celebrate winning a prestigious race like the Joe Hirsch, especially after coming so close in the Man o’ War. From here he’ll ship back to Kentucky in the next day or so and we’ll make a decision on whether or not we’ll enter the Breeders’ Cup Turf.”
Cox also reported 3-year-old multiple graded stakes winner Owendale is under consideration for a start in the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 2 at Santa Anita.
The son of Into Mischief rallied from off the pace to win the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby by 1 ¾ lengths on September 29 at Remington Park.
Briefly on the Triple Crown trail earlier this year after winning the Grade 3 Lexington in April at Keeneland, Owendale closed for third in the Grade 1 Preakness. He went on to win the Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown in June before finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers at Saratoga.
“He’s back at Churchill [Downs] and the way things are looking we’re focusing on the [Breeders’ Cup] Classic,” said Cox.
“We’ll see how he breezes next week, but it’s certainly into play the way he came back from the Oklahoma Derby and his steady improvement throughout the year. We think he deserves the shot to at least keep it in consideration.”
Cox said turf juvenile Andesite, for owners Kent Spellman and Madaket Stables, would point for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on November 1 following his second-place finish in the Grade 3 Pilgrim on September 28 at Belmont.
Additionally, New York-bred Dot Matrix is expected to make his next start on Empire Showcase day on Saturday, October 19 in the $200,000 Mohawk following his win in the Ashley T. Cole on September 22