Vosburgh & Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Odds & Predictions

It isn’t quite Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, but there’s a fascinating battle of the sexes in store at Aqueduct on Saturday when the high-class mare War Like Goddess takes on males in the G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. Elsewhere, the old-timer Drafted headlines the G2 Vosburgh, while a big field of promising juvenile fillies will give bettors a headache in the G3 Matron on turf

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

Grade 1, $500,000, 1m 4f turf, 3yo+

In the most intriguing twist of the weekend, a mare takes on males in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, which would have been the centrepiece of Saturday’s action at Aqueduct – Belmont at the Big A – anyway but is now doubly in the spotlight.

The bold distaffer in question is the wonderful War Like Goddess, who is eight-for-11 lifetime including a G1 score in last year’s Flower Bowl at Saratoga. She is twice a winner over course and distance, in the last two editions of the G3 Bewitch, and was comfortably and contentedly at the top of her division until suffering a shock defeat in last month’s Flower Bowl, when she was kept well away from a funereal pace before closing like a runaway train, but coming up a neck short at the wire.

Those were bizarre tactics on such a sound stayer, and she gets a jockey change today as Joel Rosario is busy at Keeneland. It’s almost worth just tossing that race, given the circumstances.

She likes the track, stays the distance very well, gets a 3lb pull from the boys, has certainly not been over-taxed in a light campaign, and trainer Bill Mott has won this race more than anyone else. Can War Like Goddess win this battle of the sexes?

Her rivals are old enemies, always bumping into each other on the turf route circuit. Twelve months ago Rockemperor came from well off the pace to spring a surprise in this race (at Belmont Park), winning by two lengths with a length and a half back to the favoured Gufo in third. Rockemperor has been patchy in 2022, winning the G2 Bowling Green at Saratoga but otherwise well off the board, and is probably the second-string for trainer Chad Brown behind barnmate Adhamo.

Adhamo was progressing nicely, moving through the ranks and winning the G1 United Nations at Monmouth Park (Gufo a below-par fifth), until he came unstuck in the G1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga over a mile and a half, never raising a gallop on good ground before trailing in eighth, a neck ahead of the equally flaccid Rockemperor. He is obviously better than that and could easily show it given faster conditions.

The Sword Dancer went to Gufo, who came with a strong, grinding run from off the pace to get up close home and win by a half-length, with barnmate Soldier Rising a late-closing third, beaten another half-length.

Gufo loves Saratoga and is phenomenally consistent, hitting the board in all but two of his 20 races, and his recent nose defeat in the G2 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs off just two weeks’ layoff simply confirmed his current wellbeing. He should again have the measure of the equally consistent Soldier Rising, who has never won a stakes despite boasting placed form at G1 level.

It would be a considerable surprise if either last year’s Del Mar G2 winner Astronaut or 2020 Belmont G3 winner Bye Bye Melvin had the quality to figure in this hot contest.

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Betting Pick

It would be great to see War Like Goddess beat the boys, but this is a tough test and ADHAMO is the selection back on more suitable fast ground.

Bye Bye MelvinFeargal Lynch+800
War Like GoddessJose Lezcano+140
Adhamo (IRE)Dylan Davis+600
AstronautKendrick Carmouche+3000
Rockemperor (IRE)Javier Castellano+1000
Soldier Rising (GB)Manuel Franco+600
GufoJunior Alvarado+200

Matron S

Grade 3, $150,000, 6f turf, 2yo fillies

There’s plenty to keep bettors guessing in the Matron, a big field of inexperienced juveniles with no Graded form to go on and the usual wariness about switching between the main track and the lawn.

The more-seasoned-than-most Danse Macabre has already found her feet at stakes level, toughing it out over six and a half furlongs at Kentucky Downs to hang on by a nose from subsequent G2 fourth Alluring Angel. That was an improvement on her previous start, when runner-up to the speedy Love Reigns in a stakes over five and a half furlongs at Saratoga, three-quarters of a length ahead of the rallying third-placed Redifined and another two and a quarter lengths clear of Monmouth Park five-furlong stakes winner Sweet Harmony in fifth.

Another winner on the Kentucky Downs turf is American Apple, who got the job done at the fourth attempt over six and a half furlongs, swooping late to score by a nose.

The only other stakes winner here is Determined Jester, who drew off to win by four and a half lengths over five and a half furlongs at Colonial Downs. That was her first victory after two defeats in maidens and she’s certainly going the right way.

Personal Pursuit broke her maiden over course and distance last month, she and the runner-up coming miles clear of the third in eye-catching style. That was on the main track and she makes her debut on the weeds here. Fleetfooted also got off the mark over course and distance, going gate-to-wire on turf and keeping on willingly to win by a length and a half.

The Saratoga lawn was the source for Dontlookbackatall, who turned in a thoroughly professional performance on debut over five and a half furlongs, keeping on strongly through the stretch to win by two lengths. Her trainer Christophe Clement won the Matron three years ago with Lonely Road.

Also bringing Spa form to the table is Atomic Girl, who made a successful debut over five and a half furlongs on turf, coming out best in a frantic finish in which the first six home were covered by little more than a length. It was also a close-run thing at the Spa for Little Linzee, winner by a nose on her debut over the same five and a half furlongs.

Fellow debut winner How Lovely struck at Pimlico over the flying five, shrugging off a little trouble in close quarters to surge clear and win by a length and a half, demonstrating the sort of attitude that should stand her in good stead in this big field.

Only one of these hasn’t got her head in front, although Sweetlou’sgotaces didn’t miss by much on her debut at Saratoga over five and a half furlongs, when collared late and beaten half a length as the longshot of the whole field. She’s certainly capable of getting to the winner’s circle, even if not today.

Matron Stakes Betting Prediction

Course-and-distance winner FLEETFOOTED has plenty of speed and her trailblazing tactics can help her bridge the gap to Graded level.

DontlookbackatallManuel Franco+400
Danse MacabreAdam Beschizza+300
American AppleEric Cancel+3000
How LovelyTrevor McCarthy+800
FleetfootedJose Lezcano+2000
Determined JesterForest Boyce+1200
RedifinedJavier Castellano+600
Personal PursuitJunior Alvarado+1000
Sweetlou’sgotacesDylan Davis+1200
Sweet HarmonyKendrick Carmouche+1000
Little LinzeeJose Antonio Gomez+800
Atomic GirlJorge A. Vargas, Jr.+2000
Apple PickerDylan Davis+600


Grade 2, $250,000, 7f, 3yo+

The all-time great Dr Fager won the Vosburgh twice in the 1960s and it’s a shame that this year’s race is such a poor renewal, although it nevertheless offers a free pass into the G1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint back here on November 5.

The old-timer Drafted has the best overall body of work, his roll of honour including the G3 Toboggan over course and distance in February, an easy score by four and a half lengths, and the G3 Runhappy at Belmont Park over six furlongs in May, when he came running hard to grab the win close home.

He was out of his depth when fifth in the G1 Forego at Saratoga last time, but his previous form sets the standard, such as it is.

Norman Cash puts two in the gate, headed by Jalen Journey, whose only stakes victory came when promoted from the runner-up spot to the winner’s circle in the six-furlong G3 Frank DeFrancis Memorial Dash at Laurel Park just over a year ago. That was another moderate contest, and he takes his chance here off a scarcely believable six-day turnaround after a heavy defeat in a Parx Racing stakes last Sunday.

His barnmate Eastern Bay is another greybeard who has been acquitting himself very nicely in allowance territory in recent months, winning five times including a four-runner affair over seven furlongs at Parx Racing last week. Mr Cash evidently likes to keep his horses busy, but Eastern Bay looks out of his depth here.

Of far more interest is the progressive Elite Power, who arrives looking for a four-timer after wins over seven furlongs, a mile, and then back to six for an allowance optional claimer at Saratoga, when he wasn’t pushed too hard to score by three and a half lengths. He cost $900,000 as a yearling, has plenty of scope for further improvement, and has been found a good spot for his stakes debut.

Course winner Southern District sank without trace on his stakes debut, a distant last of four over seven furlongs at Saratoga, but previously showed enough when completing a three-timer in an AOC at Churchill Downs over a mile to suggest that he deserves another attempt, especially in a race this poorly contested.

Vosburgh Betting Pick

The proven Graded form of course-and-distance winner DRAFTED is narrowly preferred to the abundant promise of Elite Power.

Southern DistrictManuel Franco+200
Jalen JourneyDylan Davis+1200
Eastern BayJavier Castellano+350
Elite PowerJose Lezcano+120
DraftedKendrick Carmouche+450

Stay tuned for the latest Breeders’ Cup Odds. Check out the World’s major Racetrack Entries, Horse Racing Results and don’t forget to Sign-up and get up to a 10% horse rebate. We offer the best rebate, check the Terms & Conditions here!

Raise your winning opportunities with our Horse Betting Guide. We have a guide for all levels! Beginners, Intermediate Handicappers!

Follow us on Social Media for more Joe Hirsch Turf Classic & more Aqueduct updates!