09/27/2014 6:06PM

Main Sequence prevails in contentious Hirsch Turf Classic

Barbara D. Livingston
Main Sequence moved to 3 for 3 in the U.S. with a win Saturday in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Main Sequence improved his U.S. record to 3 for 3 with a neck win in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park on Saturday – but he is far from perfect.

Main Sequence became fractious in the gate before the $600,000 Hirsch and, for the third straight race, broke last. His trainer, Graham Motion, thought he may have been waiting in the stretch while challenging for the lead. He also had to withstand a jockey's objection and a stewards' inquiry because of a bumping incident at the wire.

Despite his shortcomings, Main Sequence will head to the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita as a top contender. The Hirsch was a Win and You're In race for the BC Turf, but that made little difference to Main Sequence, who already had won a fees-paid berth into the Turf with his United Nations win at Monmouth Park in July.

Since being imported to the U.S. by his owner-breeder, the Flaxman Holdings Ltd. of the Niarchos family, Main Sequence has won the Grade 1 United Nations, Grade 1 Sword Dancer, and the Grade 1 Hirsch. His margins of victory have been a neck, a head, and a neck in the Hirsch.

"He is quirky. He'll wait if you make the lead too soon like you saw today," Motion said.

Motion said he would send Main Sequence to California the week of the Breeders' Cup. The Turf will be run Nov. 1.

"I'm not in a hurry to ship," Motion said. "I want him to have his last work at Fair Hill."

Imagining went to the lead in the 1 1/2-mile Hirsch, which was contested around two turns over the vast Widener turf course. He was stalked from the outside by Real Solution, who was part of a Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned entry with Big Blue Kitten. Medal Count also was forwardly placed while three wide, and Twilight Agenda saved ground while within striking distance.

After his slow start, Main Sequence recovered and settled into fifth position under jockey Rajiv Maragh.

The early pace was slow, with Imagining coasting through fractions of 26.53 seconds and 50.89. The pace then began to quicken with six furlongs going in 1:15.49 and the mile in 1:39.28.

Main Sequence mounted his rally three wide on the far turn. In upper stretch, Twilight Eclipse came out from the rail for racing room and began inching closer to Imagining. In mid-stretch, it was clear the race would come down to Main Sequence and Twilight Eclipse.

Coming to the wire, Twilight Eclipse came outward under left-handed whipping from Jose Lezcano, and Main Sequence came in a little, and the pair bumped hard. Lezcano lodged an objection, the stewards' conducted an inquiry, and the result was allowed to stand.

Main Sequence paid $5.90 to win as the second choice behind the Ramsey entry. He was timed in 2:26.32. After the slow opening half, the final mile was run in 1:35.43.

It was a length back from Twilight Eclipse to Imagining in third. Big Blue Kitten finished fourth, a length behind Imagining.