The $1,000,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) has drawn 10
horses for the mile and a quarter race at Belmont Park on Saturday. As part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series, this race
is a “Win and You’re In” event.
The winner of the JCGC has
gone on to take the Breeders' Cup Classic in 1995 with Cigar, 1997 Skip Away, and 2007 Curlin.
The biggest question, and
at the same time the toughest question to answer, focuses on the Bill Mott
trainees Ron the Greek and Flat Out. Is Mott going to have his runners at their
best for the Gold Cup or is he going to wait to have them at 100% for the
Classic? We know that Mott often will
target a race and use earlier races as preps. Last year’s Classic win for Mott
with Drosselmeyer is the perfect
example. Mott is as good as any
trainer at having his horses ready for a specific race.
Ron the Greek (5/2) draws the inside post position and the morning
line spot as favorite. Ron
the Greek will attempt to become only the third horse to win the Santa Anita
Handicap and the Jockey Club Gold Cup in the same year. Affirmed did it in 1979
and then John Henry won both races in 1981, both of those horses are in the Hall of
In addition to the Big
‘Cap, Ron the Greek won The Stephen Foster (G1) at Churchill Downs. A win in the JCGC and then the
Classic would give win him four grade one victories and make him a worthy candidate
to take the Horse of the Year title from I’ll
Have Another. Does that help answer the question as to whether Mott will
have Ron the Greek at 100% on Saturday? If he is ready, he is clearly the horse
Stay Thirsty (12-1) has
had a disappointing four year-old season.
He is zero for three in 2012, with two fifth place finishes in his
graded stakes races.
Ruler On Ice (20-1) has been equally unimpressive. It seems that
his connections are hoping for rain and a chance to renew the magic of their
sloppy track Belmont Stakes long shot victory. His off track record is impressive.
Hymn Book (5-1) has only one win in 2012, and that was in the Donn
Handicap (G1) in February. Trainer
Shug McGaughey has said that they have no plans for Hymn Book to run in the
Classic. His recent fast workouts seem to show that Hymn Book will be ready to
put in his best effort in the JCGC. Is that effort good enough for this field?
Fort Larned (7/2) has won the Cornhusker and the Whitney in very
impressive fashion. Those victories earned Beyer Speed Figures of 108 and 110.
The Ian Wilkes trainee’s win over Ron the Greek and Flat Out in the Whitney had
many people putting him at the top of the handicap division. Keep in mind that
he has never run at Belmont.
Atigun (15-1) is one of the three year-olds in the field. Trainer
Ken McPeek never shies away from any competition. Atigun is without a stakes
win in 2012, and his recent fourth place in the dead heat Travers seems to put
him below his elders.
Fast Falcon (12-1) is the late developing Nick Zito sophomore. Coming
in third, he was the horse that had the best finish in the Travers, but he
still only has a maiden victory to his credit.
San Pablo (12-1) goes out for trainer Todd Pletcher. He has won his
last two starts, both of them against small fields and both of them earned 102
BSFs. The most recent was the Iselin Handicap (G3) at Monmouth Park.
Flat Out (3-1) will try to defend his JCGC title, which was his
last victory. The horse has changed barns and has only run twice since joining
Bill Mott. Mott admitted that Flat
Out was not peeking for his first start at Monmouth and in the Whitney he had a
very wide trip. Flat Out is two
for two at Belmont Park.
Game Ball (50-1) is another wacky long shot entry from trainer
Naipaul Chatterpaul. The horse’s last nine starts have been on the turf. His last dirt win came at Fort Erie in
a $10,000 starter allowance in 2011.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup
is race 10 on the Super Saturday card at Belmont Park that also includes:
Race 5 – Beldame (G1) –
fillies/mares – mile and an eighth
Race 6 – Kelso Handicap
(G2) - mile
Race 7 – Vosburgh (G1) –
Race 8 – Flower Bowl (G1)
– fillies/mares – mile and quarter TURF
Race 9 – Joe Hirsch Turf
Classic (G1) – mile and a half TURF
Race 10 – Jockey Club Gold
Cup (G1) – mile and a quarter
The Pick 6 begins with
race 6 and the all stakes Pick 4 begins in race 7.