October 20, 1962, Kelso became the first - and so far only - horse in
history to win three straight editions of the Jockey Club Gold Cup
Invitational. On Saturday at Belmont Park, the 7-year-old Flat Out will
try to join Kelso as he goes for a third consecutive Gold Cup against
one of the most formidable fields ever assembled for the Grade 1, $1
up alongside the son of Flatter will be a galaxy of Grade 1 stars,
including this year's Kentucky Derby winner, Orb; Belmont Stakes victor
Palace Malice; Woodward hero Alpha; Whitney Invitational Handicap winner
Cross Traffic, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, and Ron the Greek, who
took the 2012 Stephen Foster and Santa Anita handicaps. Also running are
the multiple graded stakes winning Last Gunfighter and Vitoria
Olimpica, a Group 1 winner in Brazil, who most recently won the Alydar
overnight stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
would say it's a very strong renewal," said Todd Pletcher, who will
saddle the triumvirate of Palace Malice, Cross Traffic and Vitoria
Olimpica in pursuit of his first training triumph in the Jockey Club
Gold Cup, a "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Classic at
Santa Anita Park. "It's a tall order for everybody in there, really."
year, Flat Out became the 10th horse to take consecutive editions of
the 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup, joining Kelso - who won five straight
from 1960-64 - Mad Hatter (1921-22), Dark Secret (1933-34), Nashua
(1955-56), Shuvee (1970-71), Slew o'Gold (1983-84), Crème Fraiche
(1986-87), Skip Away (1996-97) and Curlin (2007-08). Crème Fraiche
finished fourth in his bid for a third victory in 1988, while Skip Away
was third in his attempt at the hat trick in 1998.
think it's great a horse can participate in it three times in a row,"
said Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who trains Flat Out for Preston Racing.
"It's a testament to the horse's durability and class."
also could be a testament to Flat Out's fondness for Belmont Park, at
which he is 5-for-6 in his career. In addition to the Gold Cup wins,
Flat Out took the 2011 and 2013 runnings of the Grade 2 Suburban
Handicap and the 2013 Grade 3 Westchester and finished third in the
Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in May.
seems to handle the track well, which definitely is part of it," said
Mott, who also will saddle Ron the Greek (12-1) in the Gold Cup. "I also
think there probably are a lot of factors that go into it, including
that he comes into form at that time of year."
Out, who will be ridden by Junior Alvarado, most recently was an
erratic but narrow second to Alpha in the Woodward, missing by a head.
He comes into the race off four straight triple-digit Beyer Speed Figure
efforts, including a career-best 116 in the Westchester in which he
edged Cross Traffic by a head.
As the 3-1 second choice for the 95th running of the Gold Cup, Flat Out will leave from post position 6.
older horses for the first time this year are Orb and Palace Malice,
third and fourth, respectively, in the Grade 1 Travers last time out.
fourth in the Preakness and third in the Belmont, will have his third
different rider in as many starts when Hall of Fame trainer Shug
McGaughey gives a leg up to Javier Castellano, currently the leading
jockey at Belmont Park. The Derby winner arrived at Belmont on Tuesday
from the training center in Fair Hill, Md., where he has been stabled
since the Travers.
think the Travers helped him," said McGaughey of Orb, who is owned by
Stuart Janney, III and the Phipps Stable. "I thought he ran a very good
race in the Travers and he came out of it very good. His works at Fair
Hill have been exactly what we've wanted. I think we've got a fresh
horse that's going in the right direction with a good, solid race under
9-2, drew post position 2. Both he and Palace Malice, 4-1 on the
morning line under Hall of Famer Mike Smith, will carry 122 pounds, a
four-pound concession from the older horses.
year started in January at Gulfstream and at the end of September he
still seems to be doing great," said Pletcher of Palace Malice, who
carries the colors of Dogwood Stable and will leave from post position
7. "If anything, I think he's improved with the time. He's a May foal
and he seems to get better and stronger as we go along and seems to
thrive on the action and the training in between. I've been very, very
pleased with the way he's held up physically and mentally."
Traffic, who earned his first graded stakes win in the Whitney after
being nosed out by Sahara Sky in the Grade 1 Met Mile, will be making
his first start beyond 1 1/8 miles.
thing that's impressed me about all of his races is the way he's
galloped out afterward," said Pletcher of Cross Traffic, who will have
the services of Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. "At the end of the
Westchester and the Met Mile, if you look past the wire he was back in
front and still galloped out pretty strongly. That gave us confidence
that going a mile and an eighth would be in his scope. We'll have to see
about the mile and a quarter, but everything that he's shown us
indicates that it shouldn't be a problem."
Pletcher's trio is the 4-year-old Brazilian import Vitoria Olimpica, a
three-quarter length winner in his first start on dirt at Saratoga.
spoke to the connections and they have a lot of confidence in the horse
from his form in South America, and we have confidence in the way that
he's trained here and the way he ran in the Alydar, so it's more about
taking a shot with a horse that seems to be doing really well," said
Pletcher of Vitoria Olimpica, the 20-1 outsider on the morning line from
post position 4.
had things pretty much his own way over a sloppy track in the Woodward,
breaking sharply and leading every step en route to the victory, his
first since the 2012 Travers.
hope to surprise again," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "He loves
Saratoga and does well up there, but in that particular race everything
worked out perfectly. He did run huge. Obviously, in this race it would
be hard to think everything would go perfectly again, but he is doing
great and he belongs. Tough, tough race."
Joe Bravo gets the call on Alpha, 8-1 on the morning line from post position 5.
the field is Last Gunfighter, who has won seven of eight starts since
being transferred to trainer Chad Brown, including the Grade 3 Iselin on
August 18 at Monmouth Park. Prior to that, he was second, beaten 2 ½
lengths, by Flat Out, in the Suburban.
seems to be training great," said Brown of Last Gunfighter, 10-1 from
post position 3. "It's a tall task, with such a solid field, and he's
going to have to come with his best to even be a factor. But it's not
out of the question for him to do that. He seems to bring his "A" game
every time I run him. This will be his toughest task to date, by far."