by TERESA GENARO
If it weren’t for Converge, Beach Patrol might have won the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at Belmont Park on Saturday wire to wire.
Beach Patrol usually sits reasonably close to the pacesetter, but 147-1 shot Converge seemed to have Presious Passion-like aspirations, charging out to a huge lead around the first turn and up the backstretch of the 12-furlong Hirsch, run on a firm Widener turf course.
Beach Patrol led the rest of the 11-horse field, maintaining a short lead on Oscar Performance until Converge predictably tired coming around the final turn. Though stablemate Fanciful Angel took off in pursuit, the dark bay colt wasn’t seriously threatened, opening up by five lengths to get his second Grade 1 win in a row and third lifetime. Sent off at 5-1, Beach Patrol clocked 2:26.29 and returned $12.00.
The Hirsch Classic was a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). Beach Patrol already secured a Turf spot through his victory in the August 12 Arlington Million (G1).
Owned in partnership by James Covello, Sheep Pond Partners, and Head of Plains Partners LLC, Beach Patrol was purchased privately in the spring of 2016, after a runner-up finish in American Turf S. (G2) at Churchill Downs.
“This was a Sol Kumin production,” said Sheep Pond’s Jay Hanley. “He knows a lot of guys, and he puts them together when he sees a horse that has done well. He asked me if I wanted to get involved, and having watched the horse, I said, ‘Of course I do.’”
“Nick Sallusto did the deal as the agent,” said Kumin, who runs as Head of Plains Partners. “We were all at Churchill last year when he ran second in the American Turf, and we loved him that day. We all looked at the Sheets and bet him.”
Beach Patrol’s first start for his new owners induced a quick case of buyers’ remorse when he finished sixth in the Penn Mile (G3) at Penn National.
“He ran [awful],” said Kumin. “We all looked at each other and said, ‘We paid way too much for this horse. We’re dead.’”
Since then, Beach Patrol has a record of 10-3-3-2 and has earned $1.3 million for his new connections.
“He’s been awesome,” said Kumin, who spent the afternoon at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox clinch American League East. “We got him for a pretty good price.”
Kumin and Hanley are also partners in the multiple Grade 1 winner Lady Eli, and Kumin recently became a partner in Fanciful Angel, who completed the exacta in the Turf Classic.
“I’m pumped up,” he said. “It’s been a good day.”
None of the partners could be present for the race, family obligations keeping them away from Belmont Park. Speaking from his home, where he was watching Mickey Mouse with a couple of two-year-olds after watching the race on his phone, Hanley said that Beach Patrol’s performance was “unbelievable.”
“The question was whether he could do a mile and a half the way he’s been doing everything else,” he said. “He answered that question today.”
The race was Beach Patrol’s first at the distance. Bred by Nancy C. Shuford, the four-year-old is by Lemon Drop Kid out of the Quiet American mare Bashful Bertie. He was originally owned by Gary and Mary West. He’s trained by Chad Brown and was ridden by Joel Rosario.
“He just fires all the time,” said Kumin. “He’s got a tremendous amount of heart, and he’s a fighter.”
“For a horse that a lot of people had question marks going a mile and a half, he was mighty impressive,” said Brown. “I think he showed that he can run all day.”