Hawkish ready for return in Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational

October 2, 2019

ELMONT, N.Y. – Multiple graded stakes winner Hawkish, who missed his summer campaign due to throat surgery, is set to make his return to the races on Saturday facing a field of seven in the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational at Belmont Park.

One of five stakes races on Saturday, the two-day Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Racing Festival will feature four “Win and You’re In” qualifiers beginning on Saturday with the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne, where the winner will secure a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The day’s under card will include the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic; the Grade 2, $400,000 Hill Prince for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on turf; the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron for juvenile fillies going six furlongs on the turf; along with the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational also at six furlongs on the Widener turf.

America’s Day at the Races will present live national television coverage of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Racing Festival at Belmont Park on Saturday from 2:30-6 p.m. Eastern on FS2 with regional coverage airing on MSG Networks from 4-6 p.m.
A 4-year-old gelding sired by multiple graded stakes winner Artie Schiller, Hawkish won his debut in January of 2018 at Gulfstream Park before going on to run fourth in the Grade 3 Palm Beach. After capturing the Grade 2 Penn Mile, he ended his 3-year-old year with a seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.

In his 2019 debut, Hawkish finished second by a half-length in the Grade 3 Appleton at Gulfstream, which he followed with a win in the Cliff Hanger on May 4 at Monmouth Park.
Hawkish then required time off for a throat surgery performed at New Bolton Center in Pennsylvania. Hawkish has put together a string of six strong works for conditioner Jimmy Toner, who said he opted for the Belmont Turf Sprint to get the gelding back on course for a fall campaign.

“Initially, I didn’t think it was going to take as long as it did coming back from the surgery, but he’s been doing really well,” said Toner. “His last couple of breezes have been good. Unfortunately, we missed the bulk of the summer but we wanted to get him started again here.”

Making all seven of his career starts at one mile or further, Toner said he is concerned about cutting back to the six-furlong distance.

“Naturally he’s a miler, but he’s a good horse and we needed a spot to come back in, so we’re hoping to start him off successfully here,” said Toner.

With Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez aboard for the first time, Hawkish will depart from post 4.

Trainer Christophe Clement has won the first three editions of the Belmont Turf Sprint starting with Pure Sensation in 2016 and the past two editions with popular New York-bred Disco Partner who returns to defend his title.
The 7-year-old gray or roan gelding and homebred son of Disco Rico for owner Patricia Generazio has amassed more than $1.4 million in earnings from 32 starts and an impressive nine wins from 15 starts at Belmont.

Disco Partner started his year with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Jaipur in June at Belmont and followed with a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Troy at Saratoga Race Course.
In his most recent start, sent off as the 7-5 mutuel favorite in the Lucky Coin on August 30 at the Spa, he raced four-wide for most of the way to finish third in a race won by Belmont Turf Sprint rival Shekky Shebaz.

Clement said Disco Partner has been training forwardly into Saturday’s race where he will have a new pilot in Junior Alvarado.

“He’s been sound and good all year,” said Clement. “I thought he’s had a bit of bad racing luck, but we’re going to stay positive. We’ll a have new rider aboard in Junior Alvarado and we’ll see how this race goes before making any future plans from here.”
Disco Partner will leave from post 7.

Godolphin Stable entered a pair of runners in Final Frontier and Fully Vested for trainer Tom Albertrani. A 4-year-old son of Ghostzapper, Final Frontier enters the Belmont Sprint off a second-place finish in the Lucky Coin where he made his stakes debut. With one victory from three starts this year, he will look to improve off his last race leaving from post 3 with Jose Lezcano aboard.

Fully Vested, a 5-year-old Discreet Cat gelding, enters the Belmont Turf Sprint off an optional-claiming win on August 31 at Saratoga. He finished second when making his turf debut to kick off his 2019 campaign in an optional-claiming sprint event on June 19 at Monmouth Park, and subsequently ran second on July 17 at Saratoga in another optional-claiming race.
With Luis Saez aboard, Fully Vested will leave from post 6.

Rounding out the field is Gidu for Zayat Stales and trainer Todd Pletcher (Manny Franco; Post 2); Shekky Shebaz for conditioner Jason Servis and owners Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables and Bethlehem Stables (Irad Ortiz Jr; Post 5); and They Shot Sonny (Hector Diaz, Jr.; Post 1).

The Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational is slated as Race 5 on Saturday’s 11-race card. First post is 12:20 p.m. Eastern.

The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Racing Festival continues on Sunday, October 6 with three Breeders’ Cup spots on the line with the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl and the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette awarding the winners an all-fees-paid berth into the Filly and Mare Turf and Juvenile Fillies divisions, respectively. The Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity for 2-year-olds on the turf will award a spot in the Juvenile Turf Sprint to the winner.
On Sunday, America’s Day at the Races will broadcast live from 2-5:30 p.m. on FS2 with regional coverage airing on MSG Networks from 4-6 p.m.

By: Press Release

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