Since it was first run in 1919, Belmont Park’s Grade 1,
$750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational has not only brought together
history’s finest thoroughbreds but served as a major steppingstone to year-end
honors for many.
Over the last decade alone, 2009 3-year-old champion Summer
Bird, 2007-08 Horse of the Year Curlin, 2006 3-year-old champion Bernardini and
2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft have counted the Jockey Club Gold Cup as among
the most prestigious of their accomplishments, and the connections of
morning-line favorite Blame are hoping a victory in Saturday’s 1 ¼ mile race
will grace their colt’s resume as well.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup, the centerpiece of Belmont Park’s
fall championship meet, will be run as the 10th of 11 races on a
card that also boasts the Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh Invitational, the Grade 1,
$500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational, the Grade 1, $350,000 Beldame Invitational
and the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational. First race post
time is 12:30 p.m.
Blame, a 4-year-old son of Arch, most recently headed
Quality Road to win the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga Race Course on August 7,
and he heads into the Jockey Club Gold Cup riding a five-race win streak that
began last October with the Grade 2 Fayette and continued with the Grade 2
Clark in November, the Grade 3 William D. Schaefer in May and the Grade 1
Stephen Foster in June.
Owned by Adele Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm, Blame has
compiled a record of 8-1-2 from 11 starts, and will be making only his fourth
start of the year in a carefully managed campaign that will likely culminate in
the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 6.
“I am really pleased with the way Blame is coming into the
race,” said trainer Al Stall, Jr., who has been prepping the colt at Keeneland.
“He’s carrying more weight, and I couldn’t be happier with the way he’s been
training. This is a tough race, and I'm really worried about everybody, but I
wouldn't trade places with anybody.
“I grew up in racing, and I know what the Jockey Club Gold
Cup has meant to horse racing through the years,” added Stall. “I have only
started a few horses in the fall meet at Belmont Park,
and I am thrilled to be a participant.”
Garrett Gomez, who has been aboard for Blame’s last three
victories, returns to ride the 8-5 morning-line favorite from post position 2
in the colt’s first start past 1 1/8 miles.
“I don't think the distance is a question,” said Stall.
“Everything he has done, and factoring in his pedigree and his style, I think
points to a mile and a quarter. We've been looking forward to a mile and
quarter since last year actually. So I don't think we have much to worry about
as far as him staying the trail.”
Rail Trip, 1-1-1 from three starts at 1 ¼ miles, will be
running for the first time on conventional dirt as he makes his first start for
trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. The 2009 Hollywood Gold Cup hero was most recently
second in the 2010 edition of that race as the 2-5 favorite in July, after
which he was transferred to New York
by Mace and Samantha Siegel of Jay Em Ess Stable.
“The clock starts ticking now,” said Dutrow of the
5-year-old gelded son of Jump Start, who has never been worse than third in 12
lifetime starts. “He’s been training well at Saratoga, and at Aqueduct, for the past month
and we’re hoping he runs his race. He hasn’t been getting tired with those fast
works, and we’re happy with where we are with him.”
Rail Trip, who worked a half-mile Wednesday morning in
49.38, will run with an aluminum pad to protect the frog in his right front
foot, Dutrow said. Saturday, he will leave from post position 8 under Cornelio
Velasquez as the 5-2 second choice.
While Blame and Rail Trip will be making their Belmont debuts in the
Jockey Club Gold Cup, Turtle Bird Stable’s Haynesfield carries an enviable
4-1-0 record from five starts at the track into the race. Winner of the Grade 2
Suburban Handicap at Belmont on July 3, the Speightstown colt most recently
finished fourth behind Blame in the Whitney after breaking through the gate.
“That was a disappointment because of the gate fiasco,” said
Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, who won the Jockey Club Gold
Cup in 2007-08 with Curlin. “He didn’t get a fair shot because of that. This is
another chance for a Grade 1, and he’s been training very well up to it. I
don’t think the 1 ¼ miles will be a problem, and he’s run well fresh in the
With Ramon Dominguez up, Haynesfield drew post position 6
and was listed at 8-1 on the morning line.
Hall of Famer Nick Zito, who saddled 3-year-old Albert the
Great to win the 2000 Jockey Club Gold Cup, will be sending out the lone
3-year-old in this year’s field – Fly Down, who gets a four-pound break in the
weights at 122 pounds. The Mineshaft colt, a heartbreaking second in the Grade
1 Travers, won the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont
in May and a month later was runner-up to Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes.
Jose Lezcano will ride Fly Down, the 9-2 third choice on the
morning line, from the rail as he carries the colors of new owner Mitaab bin
Darley Stables’ Tranquil Manner, a willing third behind Quality Road in the
Grade 1 Woodward on September 4, has been an improving colt since he began
training over the artificial surface at the Greentree
this summer in Saratoga,
and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is expecting the son of A. P. Indy to perform
“He loves the distance, as long as there’s a pace,” said
McLaughlin. “He really has gotten better the past few months and I am looking
forward to running him.”
Alan Garcia will ride Tranquil Manner, 15-1 on the morning
line, from post position 4.
Rounding out the field, from post 3 out, are Woodward
runner-up Mythical Power, who Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said will also be
entered in Sunday’s Grade 2 Kelso; Dry Martini, who won the 2009 Suburban
Handicap and will be returning to the dirt after two off-the-board performances
on grass; and 2009 Travers runner-up Hold Me Back, who won the Grade 3 Dominion
Day Handicap at Woodbine in July.
The field for the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold