He’spuregold Makes Dirt Debut a Winning One

Trainer Kelly Breen knew he was rolling the dice a little by trying He’spuregold on the dirt for the first time in his career in the $125,000 Charles Hesse III Handicap on Monmouth Park.

But he also saw enough in the morning from the 4-year-old gelding to give it a try.

Shortly after being named New Jersey’s Champion Turf Runner for 2021, He’spuregold made his dirt debut a winning one with a 2½-length victory, the feature race on the New Jersey Thoroughbred Festival card.

“He has breezed so well over the Monmouth Park dirt and after finally convincing owner John Bowers that he would run well on the dirt (his first 13 career starts were on the turf) this was a perfect opportunity to try,” said Breen. “Paco Lopez still thinks he’s better on the turf. John Bowers thinks he’s better on the turf. He could be better on the turf but pound for pound against Jersey-breds he is a top notch horse and this was the perfect spot for him.”

The victory by He’spuregold was the fifth in 14 career starts for the Bowers homebred by Vancouver (Aus) out of the multiple stakes winning mare, Smart N Classy has earnings of $315,720. 

He’spuregold was able to stick close to early leader Prendimi in plodding early fractions for the mile and a sixteenth Hesse, and had plenty left when the running started.

After early fractions of :25.13, :49.94 and 1:13.74, He’spuregold sprinted away from the field late, with Golden Brown rallying for second, two lengths ahead of Irish Meadow.

“I was worried a little bit about him being on the dirt for the first time,” said Lopez. “The past couple of times he has worked on the dirt he didn’t work the best but I knew he can handle it. So I was a little concerned about it.

“I wanted to come from behind, maybe be a couple of lengths off, but no one wanted to take the lead. It was very slow early so my horse was up close right off the leader. This is a very classy horse. He probably showed a little more speed when the 10 horse (Amatteroftime) didn’t break and with the fractions being so slow. So I had a good position and a good break. Everything worked out for us.”