Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes
|Grade 1 race|
Elmont, New York, United States
|Race type||Thoroughbred - Flat racing|
|Distance||1 1⁄2 miles|
|Qualification||3-Years-Old & Up|
The Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational is an American Grade I stakes race on turf established in 1977 for Thoroughbred racehorses three years old and up. Currently held at Belmont Park, New York City at the end of September, it is named in honor of Joe Hirsch, the award-winning racing columnist and founding president of the National Turf Writers Association. Joe Hirsch, aged 80, died on January 9, 2009.
The race was first run as the "Aqueduct Turf Classic Invitational Stakes" at Aqueduct Racetrack from 1977 to 1983 (although many publications list the 1980 Turf Classic as being run at Belmont Park, a video of the race on YouTube clearly shows the race being run at Aqueduct that year as well). Shortened to being called just the "Turf Classic" in 1983, it is raced at a distance of 1 1⁄2 miles and at one time drew the top Thoroughbreds from the U.S. and Europe when it was part of a million dollar bonus for any horse who won it plus the Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto and the Washington, D.C., International at Laurel Park Racecourse in Laurel, Maryland.
The inaugural 1977 race was won by Johnny D., ridden by 17-year-old Steve Cauthen. The race has also been won by champions such as April Run (1981 and 1982), All Along (1983), and John Henry (1984). The race record stands at 2:24 2/5, set in 1992 by the Sam-Son Farm colt, Sky Classic.
- 2:23.39 - Big Blue Kitten (2015)
Most wins by an owner:
Most wins by a jockey:
- 5 - John R. Velazquez (1995, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2012)
Most wins by a trainer:
- 3 - Todd A. Pletcher (2006, 2007, 2016)
- 2 - Mitri Saliba (1980, 1985)
- 2 - Francois Boutin (1981, 1982)
- 2 - William I. Mott (1987, 2005)
- 2 - James E. Picou (1996, 1997)
- 2 - Robert J. Frankel (2001, 2002)
- 2 - Dale L. Romans (2004, 2013)
- 2- Chad Brown (2015, 2017)
Winners of the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes
- Stakes Histories, The Original Racing Almanac 2009, page 360 on June 26, 2008.