2022 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Cheatsheet
By TwinSpires Editorial Team, Sponsored Content

By Vance Hanson (TwinSpires.com)

1. BYE BYE MELVIN (8-1) – While he doesn’t stack up from a class perspective on paper, he’s a vitally important entrant as the likely lone speed; lulled N3X rivals to sleep last time at Saratoga, albeit over a much shorter distance; that, actually, is the primary knock – he hasn’t come close to negotiating this distance before; on the plus side, he seemingly handles all sorts of footing.

2. WAR LIKE GODDESS (7-5) – The nation’s top mare over a distance of ground on the turf for the past couple of seasons, connections are testing this spot to determine her potential viability for the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1); was left with far too much to do in her title defense of the Flower Bowl (G2) last time, and moving too soon or too late has generally been the cause of her rare setbacks; whether she’s up to beating male foes remains to be seen, and those confident she can will have to bite at an ungenerous price; interestingly, mares won the last four editions of this race held at the Big A (1980-83).

3. ADHAMO (6-1) – After such a promising win in the United Nations (G1), it was disappointing to see that follow-up in the Sword Dancer (G1); Brown reportedly chalked it up the “good” ground, and admittedly he did not appear to have been a fan of the softer footing during his days in France; unfortunately, with all the recent rain Aqueduct has received lately, he might not get as firm a ground as he would like here; capable with best, but have concerns.

4. ASTRONAUT (30-1) – Undoubtedly in need of his comeback in the Del Mar Mile (G2) off such a long layoff, and bettors pretty much suspected he was using it as a get-fit trip for something longer; relative class is a problem here as his Del Mar H. (G2) win last year was a shocker and he failed to contend in two subsequent outings at or near this level; tough to endorse here.

5. ROCKEMPEROR (10-1) – Upset this race a year ago as a 15-1 outsider, and recent form ensures he’ll likely be trading near those odds again here; Brown reportedly chalked up his dull try last time to the give in the ground, which is not encouraging as the Aqueduct turf has taken a lot of moisture lately; reunited here with Castellano, but general inconsistency is a significant drawback.

6. SOLDIER RISING (6-1) – Has posted some impressive Brisnet speed ratings of late (112-101-109) while proving up to this class level; found himself farther behind stablemate Gufo in the Sword Dancer, and that generally classier foe got the jump on him and won; with a pedestrian pace expected, he should be rating closer, and like the fact he handles all types of ground; things to like.

7. GUFO (2-1) – Third in this race last year as the favorite when he bid prematurely and was caught; his campaign this season has been respectable, as usual, though perhaps compromised at times earlier in the term racing without blinkers; like most of the major players, he’ll be at the mercy of what figures to be a dawdling pace; long-time partner Rosario out of town, and while Alvarado highly capable, a switch like this in general and the resulting unfamiliarity between horse and rider gives slight cause for pause at a short price; otherwise, plenty to like.