He’spuregold narrowly notches fourth straight Irish War Cry triumph

Thanks in great part to a perfect trip under Paco Lopez, but also because of his remarkable consistency and noteworthy durability, the 6-year-old gelding He’spuregold won the $85,000 Irish War Cry Handicap for the fourth year in a row Sunday at Monmouth Park.

Lopez, coasting along on his signature extremely long rein, settled He’spuregold behind the pace, maneuvering down to the rail to race from fourth around the second turn of this turf route for older New Jersey-breds. In textbook fashion, Lopez urged He’spuregold past a tiring rival on the outside, came off the fence past the quarter pole to take aim at the two flagging leaders, and He’spuregold took care of the rest. Bounding to the lead at the furlong grounds, He’spuregold held off One Time Willard to win by a neck.

While Lopez was saving ground on the far turn, One Time Willard, the surprising 5-2 second choice, made a strong move while racing about four paths off the rail, ground loss that cost him in the end. Things went even worse for There Are No Words, who should’ve been second choice but went off at 4-1. Typically a front-running sort, There Are No Words was taken back by jockey Jomar Torres, racing from seventh down the backstretch and following He’spuregold around the turn. His mount apparently loaded, Torres tried to split Smithwick’s Spice and He’spuregold at the three-sixteenths pole, found no room, steered left and went for a gap between Smithwick’s Spice and Irish Rill, but had to check out of that spot when Smithwick’s Spice drifted inside and closed the hole.

There Are No Words, the 124-pound highweight, wound up fifth, while He’spuregold, carrying 123 pounds, took his usual place in the winner’s circle following the Irish War Cry. He’spuregold, the favorite, paid $5.60 and ran one mile over a firm course in 1:34.30.

Trained by Kelly Breen for John Bowers’ Roseland Farm, He’spuregold is a homebred by Vancouver (he’s Vancouver’s fourth-highest earner, his bankroll going over a half-million dollars Sunday) out of Smart N Classy, by Smart Strike.

Coming out of a maiden win in his sixth start, He’spuregold won the 2021 Irish War Cry by one length and the next year proved considerably more dominant. The gelding captured last year’s renewal by three-quarters of a length and gamely made it four straight Sunday.

“I feel like I keep saying this, but he’s just all class,” Breen said.

Gold medal No. 4 for He’spuregold in the Irish War Cry.