Point Of Entry Continues To Roll In G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic
By John Scheinman | 09/26/2012 06:13 PM ET
Point of Entry
Hall of Fame trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey came into the 36th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational on Saturday concerned about how his streaking colt Point of Entry would perform on a yielding grass course.
The Phipps Stable homebred may not have run his best race, but it was plenty good enough to win, and when the 1 ½-mile “Super Saturday” event at Belmont Park was in the books, McGaughey looked ahead to the Breeders’ Cup Turf on November 3.
A key question entering the Joe Hirsch was whether Little Mike, winner last month of the Grade 1 Arlington Million, could carry his abundant speed 1 ½ miles. He led the field through a quarter-mile in 25.70 and a half in 51.99, closely tracked by Treasure Beach.
On the backstretch, Spencer easily moved Treasure Beach right by Little Mike and Point of Entry remained in contact as the group reached the far turn. With Velazquez urging Point of Entry along, Treasure Beach pushed the eventual winner out five wide, and after a brief struggle, Point of Entry pulled away to win by 1 ¾ lengths in a time of 2:33.73.
“I was running forward already, so I wasn’t really worried [when Treasure Beach drifted out],” Velazquez said. “I was worried about somebody else getting through on the inside. When I asked him to go, he went.”
For Velazquez, the Joe Hirsch capped an incredible Super Saturday card, as he won three Grade 1 races including the Flower Bowl Invitational on Nahrain and the Vosburgh aboard The Lumber Guy.
The victory was the fifth in a row for the 4-year-old Point of Entry – three straight in Grade 1 races – and stamped him as one of the top grass runners in the United States.
“I was afraid going into today after all the rain [Friday] and a big heavy horse like him, it might not be his race,” McGaughey said. “I thought Treasure Beach might be the horse to beat over this turf. I was a little surprised at their tactics when they went on. And then when they opened up around there and carried us out, I was a little bit nervous. I don’t think this was his race today, but he was good enough to win.”
As the 3-5 favorite in the field of six, the son of Dynaformer paid $3.50 for a $2 win bet. Runner-up Treasure Beach was followed home by Kindergarden Kid, Finnegans Wake, Little Mike and Hailstone.
By earning $360,000 in the race, Point of Entry – whose other Grade 1 victories came in the Man o’War on July 14 at Belmont and the Sword Dancer Invitational on August 18 at Saratoga Race Course – pushed his lifetime winnings to $1,294,490 in 14 starts.
“I hope he comes back fine, and we’ll go out there [to Santa Anita Park for the Breeders’ Cup Turf] and catch a firm turf out there, and I think they’ll really see what he can do,” McGaughey said.