09/06/2012 5:29PM

Belmont: Dullahan likely headed for Joe Hirsch

Benoit & Associates
Dullahan, winning the Pacific Classic under Joel Rosario, could make his next start in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Sept. 29.

ELMONT, N.Y. − Trainer Dale Romans said he is leaning toward starting Pacific Classic winner Dullahan in the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational here on Sept. 29.

Romans said the Joe Hirsch makes sense because “we’d probably be leaning toward running in the Turf at the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. The Grade 1 Jamaica, restricted to 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles, is also possible.

Dullahan has won two races this year, both Grade 1 races on synthetic. He is winless in six starts on dirt, including a seventh as the favorite in the Belmont Stakes. Dullahan is winless in three starts on turf and has not raced on that surface since he ran second in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream in March.

“He’s never gotten a chance to run on grass when he’s in top form,” Romans said. “We’re trying to see if he’ll transfer that Poly form over to turf.”

Romans said he is also planning to run Little Mike in the Joe Hirsch.

Hit It Rich: Flower Bowl or Spinster

Hit It Rich, the comfortable winner of Monday’s Grade 3 Glens Falls Stakes at Saratoga, could make her next start in the Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational here Sept. 29 or the Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster at Keeneland on Oct. 7.

“The Flower Bowl’s an invitational, so I’ll kind of know what they’re expecting early on,” McGaughey said. “I’ll also nominate to the Spinster at Keeneland − she likes that Polytrack there − and I’ll try to figure out which one is the best spot for her. I’d really like to run her in the Flower Bowl, but I don’t want to run her if she’s going to be 10-1.”

Hit It Rich, who is 2 for 2 over Keeneland’s Polytrack, has won a trio of Grade 3 turf stakes in the last 10 months. On Monday, she won the Glens Falls by 1 1/2 lengths, running 1 3/8 miles in 2:12.34 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

McGaughey said his other top turf filly, Hungry Island, would probably make her next start in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland on Oct. 6, though he didn’t rule out trying the Flower Bowl, saying he has contemplated running Hungry Island at longer distances. She is coming off a second-place finish to Zagora, who set a course record for 1 1/16 miles winning the Ballston Spa on Aug. 26 at Saratoga.

Orb gets second start; Norumbega sidelined

McGaughey will look to get the Belmont meet off to a fast start when he sends out the 2-year-old Orb in Saturday’s first race, a one-mile heat.

Orb was a hard-luck third behind Violence when he broke poorly from the rail and was last, some 14 lengths behind the field. He took advantage of a hot early pace and came with a strong late run to finish just 1 1/4 lengths back at the wire.

“He had trained well − not fast − but he trained well before his first start,” McGaughey said. “Then he had a good work before we left. He seems to have gotten down here well. I don’t like having the [rail] again. Hopefully, he’ll break good and have himself in position.”

The one-mile race drew a field of seven, including the Todd Pletcher-trained Tizracer and Bad Hombre, who finished two lengths behind Orb in that Aug. 18 race.

Meanwhile, McGaughey said Norumbega, who won the 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Saratoga on Aug. 29 by four lengths, will be sidelined the remainder of the year because of back ankle issues.

“No surgery,” he said. “He hurt both back ankles, so we’ll just give him some time.”

Usual suspects in New York-bred features

Hessonite and Gitchee Goomie will renew their rivalry for the fifth time this year when they head the field entered for Sunday’s $150,000 John Hettinger Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles.

Though Hessonite defeated Gitchee Goomie in the Yaddo at Saratoga, Gitchee Goomie defeated Hessonite in the Mt. Vernon here and the Dr. James Penny Memorial at Parx, and finished ahead of her in the Grade 3 Beaugay in May.

In the $150,000 Ashley T. Cole, for statebred males, defending Cole winner Compliance Officer will seek to end a two-race losing streak when he meets Lubash and Street Game in the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

Six of the eight runners in the Cole participated in the West Point won by Lubash. Compliance Officer was third while Street Game was fifth.

Also Sunday, the impressive 2-year-old maiden winner Dreaming of Julia, who scratched out of Sunday’s Grade 1 Spinaway, tops a field of six entered in the one-mile Meadow Star Stakes.

Steeplechase Festival canceled

The Steeplechase Festival planned for Saratoga on Sept. 15 has been canceled but will probably be revisited for next year, according to officials from the National Steeplechase Association.

Meanwhile, there will be two steeplechase events scheduled at Belmont Park on Sept. 27 including a $50,000 novice stakes that was to be run on the Sept. 15 program as well as the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory.

Bill Gallo, the director of racing for the National Steeplechase Association, said the decision to cancel the Sept. 15 event was made in concert with the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce for a variety of reasons, including lagging ticket sales.

“There wasn’t a huge presale,” he said. “There were a couple of other elements in creating a new event that created some hesitancy. Instead of rushing into it, we decided to wait a year and be part of the 150th celebration. The consensus was let’s wait and do it right.”