Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 dollar Jockey Gold Cup at Belmont Park offers a stage for 3-year-olds to take on the older males for the first time, with CODE OF HONOR and TACITUS, (1st and 2nd in the Travers Stakes) going the mile-and-a-quarter distance again, this time with a Win and You’re In spot to the Breeders’Cup Classic on the line.
Since the year 2000, five 3-year-olds have Won the Gold Cup. SUMMER BIRD, CURLIN and BERNARDINI went on the become the division champions while CURLIN also took down the Breeders’ Cup Classic. So recent history suggests this is a meaningful race.
A short field of five, which includes four millionaires and three Grade 1 Winners, is entered for the Jockey Gold Cup. It is race 10 on a card of 11. With a scheduled Post Time of 5:49 p.m.
The Daily Racing Blog takes a brief look at the brief field:
1. TACITUS [ML 7-2] Trainer: Bill Mott. Jockey: Jose Ortiz. It is fair to say that he has not run a bad race in his eight-race career, yet it is hard to not feel like he has underachieved this summer. Blinkers went on in the Travers as Mott seemed to be searching for a way to get the gray colt back to the Winner’s circle. The equipment change put him right up with the pacesetter, and he persevered down the stretch while passed by CODE OF HONOR. The 10-furlong distance of this race seems ideal. But stepping up to face older horses and CODE OF HONOR again… it seems unlikely that he’ll get a Win in here.
2. CODE OF HONOR [ML 8-5] Trainer: Shug McGaughey. Jockey: John Velazquez. Local horse who’s connections no doubt considered the benefits of racing right out of his stall at Belmont Park with the chance to get a fees-paid entry to the Breeders’ Cup. He clearly comes into the race as a horse who is putting all the pieces together with even more upside, and given he closed like a champion in the Travers, there’s little traffic to worry about here.
3. VINO ROSSO [ML 9-2] Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. There seems to be no way for handicappers to predict the outcome when this guy hits the track. Right when you’re ready to give up on him, he runs big and Wins the Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1). But this son of CURLIN has not put together two Victories in a row since the start of his career. Also of interest, and part of the whole VINO ROSSO mystique, is that despite all his time in New York, he has only raced at Belmont once, and that was against JUSTIFY in his Triple Crown Victory.
4. PRESERVATIONIST [ML 2-1] Trainer: Jim Jerkens. Jockey: Junior Alvarado. The 6-year-old late developer didn’t run in a Stakes race of any kind until this year, but now he sports Victories in Belmont’s Suburban (G2) and Saratoga’s Woodward (G1). He has Won at this distance, and with four Wins in his last five starts, he should not be ignored in the top spot.
5. OLYMPIC VILLAGE [ML 30-1] Trainer: Anthony Quartarolo. Jockey: Javier Castellano. This Florida-bred broke his Maiden at second asking and Won an Allowance race at Laurel Park last year. He was then Victorious in his 3-year-old debut in a Claiming race going seven furlongs at Saratoga. This is his first competition at a Graded Stakes level.
Summary: With a field of just five, The Jockey Club Gold Cup sure looks like a three-horse race among CODE OF HONOR, TACITUS and PRESERVATIONIST. This does not appear to be a very attractive betting race as far as Value is concerned, as those three are likely to be the top choices at the betting windows, given that VINO ROSSO is not very dependable.
But at DRB we don’t much care for chalk, so we hope that less-than-reliable VINO ROSSO is ignored by the betting public, and we’ll wager on him at 4-1 odds or better. And as a long-shot we’ll take OLYMPIC VILLAGE– Lexington based trainer Anthony Quartarolo loves to bring horses east and Win at a big price.
Best of luck no matter how you play it.