Ron the Greek "Fired Best Shot" in JCGC

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott knows racing can be a capricious endeavor, which is why on Sunday he expressed appreciation for Ron the Greek's dynamic victory in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational and hope that Flat Out and Royal Delta move forward off their losses on Saturday.


Ron the Greek, owned by Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, Jack T. Hammer, and Gary Barber, won the Gold Cup by 6 ¾ lengths at 21-1 and earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 114. Mott also trains Preston Stables' Flat Out, winner of the 2011 and 2012 editions of the race, who finished 8 ½ lengths behind the Ron the Greek in third as the 5-2 favorite.


"There wouldn't have been many horses who would have beaten [Ron the Greek] yesterday," said Mott. "He might have fired his best shot right there. I'm not [going to be] disappointed if he doesn't fire that one back."


It was the second win in seven starts this year for Ron the Greek, who took the Sunshine Millions Classic for Florida-breds by 11 ¼ lengths in January at Gulfstream Park. In 2012, Ron the Greek captured the Grade 1 Santa Anita and Stephen Foster handicaps and was sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.


Saturday's race was just the second loss in seven starts at Belmont Park for Flat Out, who had won the 2011 and 2013 Suburban Handicaps and 2013 Westchester in addition to his pair of Gold Cup triumphs.


"It was good. Maybe not his 'A' race, but it was a very good race," said Mott of Flat Out's performance on Saturday. "Steady. That's the kind of race that you can go to the Breeders' Cup with and maybe have a little bit more confidence that you haven't overdone it."


Two-time Eclipse champion Royal Delta was second, beaten two lengths by 3-year-old Princess of Sylmar, in her attempt to win the Grade 1 Beldame Invitational for a second straight year.


"She looks great," said Mott. "I'm not sure she ran her best race yesterday. She might have a better one in her than that. I'm pretty sure she does. I think her last two were better than that, so hopefully she'll come back next time and give us a good one."


Ron the Greek, Flat Out, and Royal Delta all appear to be headed to the Breeders' Cup in November at Santa Anita, with Ron the Greek and Flat Out targeting the Grade 1 Classic. Mott said he will talk to owner Benjamin Leon about whether Royal Delta will compete against males in the Classic or females in the Distaff. The trio will continue training in New York for the time being, Mott said.


Royal Delta was second to Havre de Grace in the 2011 Beldame before going on to win the Breeders' Cup Distaff. Last year, she won both the Beldame and the Distaff. In 2010, Mott won the Distaff with Unrivaled Belle, who was second in the Beldame.


Plans are more nebulous for Juddmonte Farms' Slumber, who finished fourth, beaten 1 ¼ lengths by winner Little Mike and a head by third-place finisher Real Solution, in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, the 5-year-old's second start this year. Slumber, a listed stakes winner in England, entered the Turf Classic off a 3 ¾-length victory in an optional claimer on August 15 at Saratoga Race Course.


"The bottom line is he missed third by about that much," said Mott. "He kind of had to alter course at the three-sixteenths pole. He was behind when that horse backed up on him, and he had to come around two of them. I don't know what's around that's better than that group that ran [in the Turf Classic]."




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