Breeders’ Cup Photo ©
For the third time this year, the Chad Brown-trained trio of Big Blue Kitten, Slumber, and Shining Copper will team up to try to take down a grade I race when they start in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. I) on September 26th at Belmont Park.
Two starts back, Big Blue Kitten rallied to defeat Slumber (second) and Shining Copper (fourth) in the United Nations Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park, and last time out, Big Blue Kitten and Shining Copper were second and third in the Arlington Million (gr. i) while Slumber finished eighth.
According to the Belmont Park Notes for September 20th on the New York Racing Association website, Chad Brown is confident that his three horses are ready for strong efforts.
“[Big Blue Kitten is] doing really well,” said Brown. “He emerged from the Million in good shape. He’s had some maintenance works in between and he seems like he’s kept his form well.”
Regarding Slumber’s poor showing in the Arlington Million, Brown explained that it was the result of a very rough trip: “He really got a horrific trip [in the Million],” said Brown. “It’s hard to see from the view at Arlington with all the trees, but even Joe Bravo on Big Blue Kitten, who was behind Slumber at that point, described what happened to him and it’s amazing Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] stayed on the horse. He nearly ran into the rail and had two horses come over on him and he completely pulled straight up. He actually suffered several lacerations in the race which are just now healed up.
“He’s doing well now,” Brown added. “He was trainable [after the race] but he had some ugly-looking wounds. Thankfully, it could have been a lot more serious than that. He’s a real warrior. He just had his final breeze this morning [five furlongs in 1:00.10 on the inner turf course at Belmont] and it went beautiful.”
The least-accomplished of the Brown trio is Shining Copper, who has yet to win a stakes race, but his front-running tactics have secured him strong finishes in the United Nations and Arlington Million, and Brown doesn’t plan to change his running style: “We’ve used him as a pace maker in his last two races and he’s nearly held on and won it all,” said Brown. “He’s a very brave horse and has a lot of class. He’ll be out there on the front again.”
The Belmont Park Notes also list grade I winner Twilight Eclipse and the recent Saratoga allowance winner Perfect Title as probable starters. Quiet Force, Red Rifle, and Tobias are possible starters.