Arklow leads win-starved Joe Hirsch field

The Grade I, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic highlights Saturday’s card at Belmont Park. The 1 1/2 event drew a field of seven with Breeders’ Cup Turf aspirations. Post time for the Joe Hirsch, Race 9 of 11 on the day, is 4:50 p.m. ET.

#5 ARKLOW (3-1) has had a bit of bad luck to be 5-0-3-1 this year, but he lost the rider in his only off-the-board effort. He most recently ran second while racing wide against a Kentucky Downs track with an apparent inside bias in the Kentucky Turf Cup. ARKLOW was within a half-length of victory in each of his three prior starts, all graded stakes. Perhaps the rider switch to Junior Alvarado can make the difference for the Brad Cox trainee in this wide-open affair.

#1 ZULU ALPHA (6-1) topped ARKLOW in a low-rated renewal of the Kentucky Turf Cup last time out. The Mike Maker pupil has been inconsistent outside of Gulfstream this year but will have the benefit of stablemate #4 CROSS BORDER (20-1) setting an honest pace in the Joe Hirsch. ZULU ALPHA has had several different riders in the past and switches back to Channing Hill on Saturday. He appears to be offering the best value in the race, though he’s not the most likely winner.

#6 SADLER’S JOY (5-2, morning-line favorite) is still searching for his first win since March of 2018 (nine starts) but has had some rough trips in his last two efforts. He lost by just a neck to the now-sidelined Annals of Time when last seen in the Sword Dancer despite changing lanes several times in the stretch. Prior to that he was blocked in the lane in the Bowling Green. SADLER’S JOY has an underwhelming 9-1-2-3 record at Belmont, so taking him as the 5-2 favorite isn’t all that appealing. Jose Lezcano has the call.

The play: $10 win 5

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