June 5, 2023

Green Light Go heads Champagne; Zulu Alpha, Arklow back for Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

Green Light Go winning the Saratoga Special (G2) (c) Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography

A smashing 3 3/4-length winner of the Saratoga Special (G2), Green Light Go skipped the Hopeful (G1) when the track came up sloppy and will return from a 56-day freshening in the $500,000 Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park. The unbeaten two-year-old colt will be a prohibitive favorite over six rivals in the one-mile test, one of five stakes on an 11-race card Saturday.

The Champagne winner receives a free berth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and earns 10 points toward a spot in a 20-horse field as part of the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

A Stronach Stables homebred son of Hard Spun, Green Light Go romped when making his debut at Belmont Park in early July and registered a commendable 94 BRIS Speed rating for his Saratoga Special win. The bay colt is bred to relish longer distances and Junior Alvarado retains the mount for Jimmy Jerkens.

Tiz the Law, who garnered a field-best 97 Speed rating posting an impressive debut tally at Saratoga on August 8, looks like the main rival. By Constitution, the second-leading freshman sire to date, Tiz the Law overcame being stuck behind a wall of horses with a sizzling turn of foot in the stretch, drawing off to win by a widening 4 ¼-length margin. Barclay Tagg trains and the New York-bred colt picks up a new pilot in Manny Franco after being ridden by Alvarado.

Gozilla will try to rebound after finishing third as the favorite in the Hopeful and Big City Bob faces a class check after posting a 26-1 upset in the Sapling at Monmouth Park. Other runners include last-out maiden scorers Alpha Sixty Six and Three Technique.

Zulu Alpha and Arklow, the respective top two finishers in the September 7 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), will meet for the third straight time in the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at 1 ½ miles. Zulu Alpha got the better of his rival when posting a 3 ¼-length decision last time, the fourth graded victory for the millionaire, and Channing Hill picks up the mount for Mike Maker. Fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) last fall, Arklow had placed in the Man o’ War (G1), Belmont Gold Cup (G2) and Bowling Green (G2) this year prior to his clear second last time. Alvarado rides for Brad Cox.

Channel Cat, winner of the Bowling Green and second most recently in the Sword Dancer (G1), also merits consideration along with Grade 1/Group 1 victors Channel Maker, Sadler’s Joy and Ya Primo.

The $400,000 Hill Prince (G2) features a solid cast of nine three-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles on turf. A Thread of Blue and Henley’s Joy, upset winners of the Saratoga Derby Invitational and Belmont Derby (G1), are top contenders along with Grade 2 hero Digital Age from the Chad Brown barn.

In the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational, Disco Partner will look to get back on track after dropping all four starts this season. A seven-time stakes winner, the gray veteran heads a field of seven in the six-furlong turf affair and challengers include Shekky Shebaz and Final Frontier, the one-two finishers in the August 30 Lucky Coin at Saratoga; and multiple stakes victor Hawkish.

Karak, a convincing odds-on winner of the August 3 Tyro at Monmouth Park, is the one to beat in the $150,000 Matron (G3). The Wesley Ward-trained daughter of Karakontie will face five juvenile fillies over six grassy furlongs.

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