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Breeders' Cup 2017

Blame Headlines Jockey Club Gold Cup

June 12, 2010: Blame and Garrett Gomez take the 29th running of the G1 Stephen Foster Stakes at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
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 past.”


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 Abdullah


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 Training Center this summer in Saratoga, and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is expecting the son of A. P. Indy to perform accordingly.

“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 Cup Invitational:








Fly Down (KY)

J Lezcano


N P Zito



Blame (KY)

G K Gomez


A M Stall, Jr.



Mythical Power (KY)

J R Velazquez


B Baffert



Tranquil Manner (KY)

A Garcia


K P McLaughlin



Dry Martini (FL)

E S Prado


B Tagg



Haynesfield (NY)

R A Dominguez


S M Asmussen



Hold Me Back (KY)

R Maragh


W I Mott



Rail Trip (KY)

C H Velasquez


R E Dutrow, Jr.









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