When Charlie Appleby sends out a horse in America, there’s little doubt horseplayers are aware that a winning performance is in the cards.
Among the world’s top trainers, the Englishman sends out 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) winner Rebel’s Romance in Saturday’s $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) at the Belmont at the Big A meet.
The 5-year-old gelding attempts to rebound from his last start — the Bowling Green (G3) at Saratoga on July 30– when the clipped heels with another horse around the final turn, stumbled badly, dropped his jockey, and did not finish. Neither rider Richie Mullen nor the horse was injured.
Godolphin-owned Rebel’s Romance, the 9-5 favorite, takes on eight rivals in the 1 ½-mile turf marathon, including BC Turf runner-up Stone Age and third-place finisher War Like Goddess, who won last year’s Joe Hirsch.
William Buick has the call on Rebel’s Romance from post 5. Prior to the Bowling Green, Rebel’s Romance finished seventh in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) in March. He had won five in a row, including a pair of Group 1 races in Germany, in 2022.
After the Bowling Green, Rebel’s Romance was sent back to Europe and Appleby’s assistant, Sophie Chretien, said the horse has settled well n New Yor and is ready to go.
“So far, so good,” Chretien said. “He traveled well. I think without the incident (in the Bowling Green), he was going so well and to me, he would have won easily. It’s something we weren’t expecting. But in the mornings, he doesn’t show anything is wrong. He’s been racing a long time, and he looks so happy, hopefully he goes over like that.”
With a record of 14-9-0-0, the closer tops the field in earnings at nearly $3 million.
War Like Goddess was not entered in the Flower Bowl (G2) on Sept. 2 due to a fever, but Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott said the 6-year-old “seems good” to go after she galloped over Saratoga’s training track on Tuesday (Sept. 26).
Like Rebel’s Romance, War Like Goddess runs from off-the-pace. She’s 1-for-3 this year (second by a neck in the Grade 2 Glens Falls on Aug. 3) but has eight graded stakes wins and earnings of $2.2 million for owner George Kirkorian.
Stone Age is back for another shot Rebel’s Romance, this time with Chad Brown as the trainer (Aidan O’Brien was the previous trainer). Last out, the 4-year-old colt finished fifth in the Sword Dancer (G1) on Aug. 26 in his second start of the year (first with Brown) and has two wins in 16 career races.
The Joe Hirsch is race 6 of an 11-race card Saturday that also features the $400,000 Woodward (G2) in race 7 and the $250,000 Vosburgh (G2) in race 3, a “Win and You’re In” for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
The picks: 1 Rebel’s Romance 2 War Like Goddess 3 Pioneering Spirit
The field for the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, from the rail out, with odds:
1 Grand Sonata (John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher), 30-1
2 Soldier Rising (Jose Ortiz, Christophe Clement), 5-1
3 Stone Age (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Chad Brown), 6-1
4 Adhamo (Flavien Prat, Chad Brown), 10-1
5 Rebel’s Romance (William Buick, Charlie Appleby), 9-5
6 War Like Goddess (Junior Alvarado, Bill Mott), 5-2
7 So High (Romero Maragh, Naipaul Chatterpaul), 50-1
8 Pioneering Spirit (Jose Lezcano, Linda Rice), 10-1
9 Astronaut (Kendrick Carmouche, Tom Albertrani), 10-1
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.