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Fort Larned, Ron the Greek, Flat Out Head JCGC Probables

Fort Larned wins 2012 Whitney
The Grade 1, $1 million TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on September 29 at Belmont Park is the centerpiece of Super Saturday, which features four additional Grade 1’s and the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap, each a “Win and You’re In” event for the Breeders’ Cup on November 2 and 3 at Santa Anita Park.

 

According to Andrew Byrnes, stakes coordinator for The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), likely to head the field for the TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup as he goes for his third straight graded stakes score is Janis Whitham’s 4-year-old Fort Larned. Trained by Ian Wilkes, the E Dubai colt’s 1 ¼-length victory in the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 4 earned him a career-high 110 Beyer Speed Figure, the best this summer at Saratoga Race Course for all races beyond a mile and tied for fifth nationally for the year.

 

Looking to turn the tables on Fort Larned in the 1 ¼-mile TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup will be Whitney runner-up and beaten favorite Ron the Greek and his stablemate, Flat Out, who finished third. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Ron the Greek has been first or second in all five 2012 starts, including Grade 1 victories in the Santa Anita Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap, while Flat Out seeks his first victory since a 2 ½-length score in last year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup.

 

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, a three-time winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, will be represented by Stuart S. Janney, III’s Hymn Book. The 6-year-old Arch gelding, who has made six consecutive graded stakes appearances, won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap in February at Gulfstream Park and most recently was fourth in the Whitney.

 

Three-year-olds have taken 38 of the 93 previous runnings of the TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup, the most recent of which was 2009’s Belmont Stakes and Travers winner, Summer Bird. Looking to continue that success will be Fast Falcon, whom Hall of Famer Nick Zito saddled to finish a close-up third to the dead-heated duo of Golden Ticket and Alpha in the Grade 1 Travers, and the Ken McPeek-trained Atigun, who was fourth in the “Mid-Summer Derby.”

 

The TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup is one of the few races on the NYRA circuit to have eluded trainer Todd Pletcher, who will saddle the improving San Pablo, the Grade 3 Philip Iselin winner who hit the board in 11 of his 12 career starts. Under consideration from Pletcher’s barn as well is Repole Stable’s 2011 Travers winner Stay Thirsty, most recently fifth behind winner To Honor and Serve in the Grade 1 Woodward on September 1 at Saratoga.

 

Ruler On Ice, the 2011 Belmont Stakes winner, is also questionable for the TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup.

 

 

 

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Also on September 22, Ron the Greek breezed a half mile in 48:23 (4/57) at Saratoga in preparation for the JCGC.
On September 22, Ruler On Ice posted a 4 furlong bullet in 48 flat (1/50) in preparation for a possible start in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

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