09/26/2013 11:02AM

Belmont Park: Brown has formidable pair for Joe Hirsch Turf Classic


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ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Chad Brown is taking his best shot at Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park. With no suitable spots to split them up before the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita on Nov. 2, Brown will run the Grade 1-winning pair of Real Solution and Big Blue Kitten. The 1 1/2-mile test on the Widener course is a Win and You’re In race for the BC Turf.

Real Solution and Big Blue Kitten, both stretch-runners, make for an imposing duo and will be joined in a three-ply Ken and Sarah Ramsey entry by the Mike Maker-trained rabbit Joes Blazing Aaron.

Real Solution, a 4-year-old homebred colt by the Ramseys’ stallion Kitten’s Joy, comes off a victory in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, by far the most important score of his career and perhaps his finest performance, too. While Real Solution’s Million victory was achieved via the disqualification of first-place finisher The Apache, it was a thoroughly warranted disqualification. Real Solution was gaining fast on The Apache and looked as though he was going to get up in ample time when he was bumped and carried out by that opponent late. Since Real Solution missed finishing first by just a head, it seems safe to say he would have finished first were it not for the interference.

Big Blue Kitten, a 5-year-old homebred son of Kitten’s Joy, will be looking for his third straight Grade 1 victory. He used his strong late kick to win the United Nations at Monmouth two starts back and the Sword Dancer at Saratoga most recently. He will be facing tougher opposition Saturday, but he has improved dramatically since having the opportunity to compete at extended distances.

Trainer Shug McGaughey also will be sending out two here in the Phipps Stable-owned entry of Boisterous and Imagining.

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Boisterous beat Big Blue Kitten in the Monmouth Stakes in June with the aid of a better trip and followed with perhaps the best performance of his career, a dominant victory in the Grade 1 Man o’ War at Belmont. However, his last two efforts, an eighth in the Sword Dancer and a third as the odds-on favorite in the Bowling Green, were not of similar quality.

Imagining, who has shown flashes of real ability, was an easy front-running winner of the Idle Rich Stakes, an overnight affair, at Saratoga last time out. Imagining will be part of what figures to be a strong pace that in addition to Joes Blazing Aaron will likely include King Kreesa, who is stretching out off a second to Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the one-mile Fourstardave Handicap, and Little Mike.

Little Mike will be attempting to recapture the form that enabled him to win three Grade 1 events last year, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Little Mike seemed primed for a big performance last time in the Arlington Million after he set a fast pace and finished a creditable fourth in the United Nations in his first start back from his unsuccessful Dubai trip. But Little Mike faded to sixth in the Million, a race he won last year.

The lightly raced Slumber is an intriguing entrant. Slumber commanded attention when he was an impressive winner of an overnight race at Saratoga in 2012. He disappeared for a year after that but returned at Saratoga this summer and won another overnight race in the manner of a top-notch stakes horse.

“He won the right way, with style,” said Bill Mott, the trainer of Slumber. “He gives me the impression of being a very good horse. Everyone seems to believe he has high potential. I am of the same belief.”

Twilight Eclipse and Nutello, the second and third finishers in the Sword Dancer, complete the field.