NEW YORK (AP) Big Blue Kitten won the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic in a course-record time Saturday at Belmont Park.
The 7-year-old ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:23.39, erasing the mark of 2:24.36 set by Fantastic Light in 2001.
Big Blue Kitten was trained by Chad Brown, who sent out three of the seven runners in the field.
Big Blue Kitten and jockey Joe Bravo settled far back in sixth before launching a four-wide bid on the final turn. They surged past the pack at the top of the stretch and had enough left to hold off Slumber, the third Brown horse in the race, by three quarters of a length with Twilight Eclipse third.
Big Blue Kitten earned $360,000 for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey.
The Joe Hirsch and the $400,000 Vosburg were Breeders’ Cup Challenge races, insuring the winners’ fees-paid spots in the season-ending championships next month at Keeneland.
Big Blue Kitten was already set for the $3 million Turf, having previously won a Challenge race in the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park in July. Big Blue Kitten paid $7, $3 and $2.30.
Slumber, running as a separate betting interest, returned $4.80 and $3.40, and Twilight Eclipse paid $3 to show.