Lauren and Ralph Evans' Diversify is in good order one day before he is set to make his graded stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, trainer Rick Violette said Friday.
Diversify earned a personal-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure last out, clearing away by 11 ½ lengths to win the Evan Shipman on August 21 at Saratoga Race Course. It was the second straight stakes victory for the 4-year-old son of Bellamy Road after also winning the Saginaw on July 2 in his last appearance on Big Sandy.
"He's doing great, he's certainly doing as well as he was before he won the stake at Saratoga," Violette said. "That race certainly adds to the confidence level. It's a big step up going to a Grade 1, but we think he's up to the challenge. We're hoping for big things tomorrow."
A New York-bred, Diversify did not make his stakes debut until March of his current campaign, finishing seventh in the Stymie. After a runner-up finish against allowance company on April 30, the gelding has finished on the board in his last three starts, running second in the Commentator at one mile on May 29 before posting back-to-back victories at 1 1/6 miles and 1 1/8 miles, respectively.
Diversify will now run at the Jockey Club Gold Cup distance of 1 ¼ miles for the first time, competing in a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic November 4 at Del Mar.
"Obviously, he's improved and it looks like he relishes long distances," Violette said. "He certainly can get the mile and an eighth, and we'll see if he can get the mile and a quarter tomorrow."
Listed as the 7-2 third choice on the morning line, Diversify drew the rail with jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the seven-horse field and will look to be the speed of the race.
"It [the inside] took an option away, but he has speed and we have to use it," Violette said. "We don't have the option of seeing if anybody else is going to go, so it takes some of the guesswork of what our plan will be out. Irad will try and get away clean and let his speed develop."
Diversify is 3-2-0 in five career Belmont starts and is 6-2-0 in nine starts overall.
Source: NYRA Communications