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Belmont 9/28/2013: Jockey Club Gold Cup Day
1:15 pm: Happy Jockey Club Gold Cup Day at Belmont Park, where it's fast and firm, sunny and 73 degrees. A few housekeeping notes about the 11-race card, which includes 5 of the 9 Grade 1 races at the meeting:
*The pick-6 (no carryover after one winner yesterday for $150k) is on races 6 through 11 -- not the six graded stakes races. It starts one race later with the Kelso and ends with a statebred maiden turf sprint. So the Beldame, a showdown between Royal Delta and Princess of Sylmar, ends the Pick-5 and early pick-4 but is not part of the pick-6.
*The late pick-4, however, is on races 7 through 10 -- the Vosburgh, Flower Bowl, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and Jockey Club Gold Cup.
*Three early scratches from the stakes: Lady Cohiba from the Beldame, leaving a field of five and no superfecta; Palace from the Vosburgh, and Boisterous from the Turf Classic.
The opener, a turf sprint for statebred N1xers, went to front-running Iron Power. The grass is very quick, as the winner went 7f in 1:20.70.
1:45 pm: Misconnect, second to Champagne-bound Honor Code in his Saratoga debut, surged late to run down 5-2 Endowment Manager (good 2nd to Sound of Freedom in Spa debut) to win 2yo maiden-special by a length. Misconnect, a $180k Unbridled's Song/Repole/Pletcher 2-year-old purchase, was 13-10 in debut, looked home until Honor Code's spectacular rally up the rail in the slop.
Race was bet as if none of the firsters were in same league as the two faves. The only one who took any money, Tiznow/Mott/Winstar homebred Tourist (6-1 early, 10-1 at post), was best of rest running third beaten 3 3/4. Winner's time was 1:22.65.
2:15 pm: Storming Inti, third to next-out winners Bashart (With Anticipation S.) and Arctic Slope (CD MSW) in Spa debut, pounded from 3-1 ML to 6-5 and prevailed over 2yo grass maidens in 3rd with perfect trip. Chad Brown trainee was close second to 5-1 Mack Miller through slow fractions, took over from that one in stretch and 17-1 Darley second-timer Good Response settled for 2nd.
2:50 pm: Those inclined to think Belmont still favoring inside speed got some reinforcement in the 4th as chronic stopper Cay to Pomeroy led from gate to wire in 1:09.60 for 6f. Granted, he was rounding back to form, and got an easy half in 45.32 with only a 51-1 shot in pursuit, but still.
The multirace willpays into the Beldame have Royal Delta less than half the price of Princess of Sylmar: $82.50 vs. $175 in the pick-3, $240 vs. $536 in the pick-4, $2375 vs. $5984 in the pick-5 (all $2 prices.)
The older, more experienced Royal Delta deserves to be favored, and her tactical speed gives her an edge. On the other hand, Princess of Sylmar should love Belmont (it's her first start over the track) if it's fair. I can't wait to see what happens and hats off to Ed Stanco, Princess of Sylmar's owner, for taking on Royal Delta in this spot.
3:20 pm: Princess of Sylmar ($6.20) ran down 1-to-5 Royal Delta to win the Beldame by two lengths, capping off an outstanding campaign and locking up the 3-year-old filly championship. As Durkin nicely put it, "It took a champion to beat a champion."
Royal Delta tracked 35-1 Roman Invader through fractions of 23.78, 46.71 and 1:10.53 down the straightaway and appeared to be on a loose rein with lots left for the inevitable challenge of Princess of Sylmar, who was fourth at the inside early. When the 3-year-old made her move, though, she went by Royal Delta with little resistance and opened daylight as she finished in 1:47.93 for the one-turn nine furlongs.
With victories in the Kentucky Oaks, CCA Oaks, Alabama and Beldame, Princess of Sylmar seems to have locked up an Eclipse Award. Her connections are not inclined to travel to California run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, but the daughter of Majestic Warrior is scheduled to race next year as a 4-year-old.
Not playing the no-carryover pick-6 that starts in 20 minutes with the Kelso. I have no strong opinions or singles/doubles to anchor my play around, so will instead put in a spready pick-4 play in the all-stakes pick-4 that starts with the 7th.
3:50 pm: Guess the Kelso was as easy as the public thought as Graydar led from start to finish at 4-to-5 in his first start since March 30. I was unconvinced because a flat mile is such a tough distance to win at off a long layoff, and because I thought someone would make him run his opening half faster than the 47.11 in which he was clear.
Graydar's next start is unclear -- he's being considered for the BC Dirt Mile at today's distance or a stretchout to the BC Classic at 10f, a furlong farther than he's travelled. Graydar, who ran the mile in 1:34.08, has now won 5 of 6 career starts for Twin Creeks Racing and trainer Todd Pletcher. Brujo de Olleres was second and Hymn Book a late-closing third.
Here's that late pick-4 play. All races are open, and I'm hoping they turn out that way. I've gone with only Flat Out and the two 3-year-olds in the Gold Cup because much as I admire Cross Traffic's brilliance, I'm betting that 10f is one furlong too far for him.
4:30 pm: Private Zone regained the lead after being passed in deep stretch by Justin Phillip. and then survived a stewards' inquiry and a claim of foul, to win the Vosburgh in a gutsy effort.
Justin Phillip looked like a certain winner when he inched ahead of the early leader in deep stretch, but Private Zone came back at the rail and outfinished him. Head-ons showed that Private Zone did come out slightly in deep stretch, but the contact appeared incidental and it appearedJustin Phillip may have come in on him a few strides earlier.
Private Zone, a Canadian-bred, California-based 4-year-old gelding by Macho Uno, was second in four stakes in California last winter, then went to Dubai for the Golden Shaheen, where he finished 9th. He was off until winning the restricted Pirates Booty in his last start, then was sent here by trainer Doug O'Neill. He ran the 6f today in 1:08.02 and is headed home for the BC Sprint.
5:00 pm: Laughing ($3.20)won her fourth straight graded stakes and second Grade 1 as she led from start to finish and stretched out to win the Flower Bowl over her entrymate Tannery. Mystical Star finished third behind the Richard Santulli-owned entry.
Laughing's string of victories in the G3 Eatontown, G1 Diana, G2 Ballston Spa and the G1 Flower Bowl is a commendable resume, but she's not going to scare anyone off for the BC F&M Turf. She has been winning narrowly on rock-hard courses with perfect setups, none better than today's crawling pace of 6f in 1:16.02, and the field she faced today was short of Grade 1 quality. Tannery and Mystical Star, both beaten less than a length, are a combined 1 for 19 in U.S. graded stakes.
5:35 pm: Little Mike, who had been off form and fourth or worse in all four of his starts this year, turned back the 4-5 entrymates Real Solution on the outside and Big Blue Kitten on the inside to win the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 7-1.
In a field that seemed to have plenty of early speed, Little Mike laid slightly off the pace, took over at the top of the stretch, and grimly held on in a head-bob at the wire. The 6-year-old Spanish Steps gelding will now try to defend his title in the Breeders' Cup Turf, where he held off a troubled Point of Entry last year.
Palace Malice opened the favorite for the Club Gold Cup. He's favored in the double willpays as well, but Cross Traffic is a narrow favorite in the pick-3 willpays.
Apologies -- seem to be having trouble with the commenting system.
6:10 pm: Ron the Greek ($44.00)suddenly ran back to his best form and scored a runaway victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, with Palace Malice a distant second, Flat Out third in his bid for a third straight JCGC, and Orb last.
The race was weird from start to finish as Cross Traffic, front-running winner of the Whitney, walked out of the gate and was sluggish thereafter, never getting involved. Alpha led with Palace Malice in close pursuit, and Ron the Greek closer than usual at the rail. Turning for home, Palace Malice got by Alpha, but Ron the Greek came shooting through at the rail and powered away, finishing the 10f in 1:59.70.
Only three (though the logical three) are covered in the pick-6: Two live tickets at $79k to #11 Stock Fund, one each at $159k to #5 Coriander and #13 Live Life Fast.
The all-stakes pick-4 of Private Zone, Laughing, Little Mike and Ron the Greek paid $7,241 for $2.
6:40 pm: Coriander beat Stock Fund to win the finale, so one winner of the pick-6 at $159k and no carryover. Lots to ponder in the wake of today's racing; five weeks to the Breeders' Cup.
pennies from heaven:.hit the dime Super with Ron the Greek, 6 times.20-1,why not?
Granted the pace won't be loafing BUT if Laughing goes to the turf classic it will be the usual SA billiard table painted green dirt aka cali turf.
Couldn't believe that Royal Delta had no response when Princess of Sylmar went by her in the stretch. As far as the JCGC goes has anyone ever seen a race in which most of the horses either stumbled at the start or got off badly?? What are we to make of this? Cannot fault Ron The Greek, however, as he ran lights out. As fast as that track was yesterday, his winning time was outstanding.
You do mean five weeks to the California Thoroughbred Racing Championships, don't you?
I just got to sitting down to races after a horrible night and hoping a few more a spirited fight like the one I got to see about 10 seconds of will give ME battling spirit BACK to fightin' like these great athletes always do. I will be rootin for your ticket..if you hear a shout..its from Cali rootin you home! I cant wait for the next few hours of competition!
Steve, First of all what a day of racing. The Princess already has stolen the show with a convincing win over Royal Delta with all the Speed track bias talk and all the advantages. Looks like TAP is having a Special day CONGRATS to that team. Needed 16-1 in 3rd race to score with a nice pick 4 I assume. Still plenty of racing to come and hope its as entertaining as first half. As always Good Luck and happy to be in good company/class
The Princess rocks. Royal no excuse at all. Cant run an a++ race every time, and the figs said she wasn't faster to begin with .
What Princess of Sylmar did today in defeating Royal Delta just won her the three year old filly title, but now it has to be asked: Given many felt Royal Delta could have beaten the boys in the Classic, should she have instead faced Flat Out, Orb and company in the Jockey Club Gold Cup? I would have done that because a win over that bunch and she likely is Horse of the Year no matter what happens in the Breeders' Cup. That said, since Princess of Sylmar is not scheduled to go in the BC, if I had Close Hatches (who won the Cotillion last Saturday at Parx), I go on offense and try to take the three year old filly title away from Princess of Sylmar by in two weeks heading to Woodbine for the Canadian International on turf at 1 1/2 Miles, If she were to win that race, then I have her take on the boys again in either the BC Turf or BC Classic. Two wins over the boys at the Classic distance in a game of one-upsmanship might very well give Close Hatches the three year old filly title along with possibly champion female turf horse (especially if she won both the Canaldian International and BC Turf) and Horse of the Year.
Steve, Thanks for the insight on the pick three will pays when comparing Princess of Sylmar to Royal Delta. Based on the morning line odds of Princess Sylmar versus Royal Delta, Prince Sylmar is being bet down to 59% of her 2-1 morning line odds compared to Royal Delta being under bet 110% of her morning line odds of 3/5. Quite significant money on Princess of Sylmar in the pick threes and worth a bet at current overlaid odds of 4-1 with 9 minutes to post. Good luck today and always!
This is where what probably should have been done was started the P6 on the Kelso and made it clear it was an all-stakes P6 either by ending the card with the Jockey Club Gold Cup or making the P6 for today only 5-10 (and if anyone gets confused by that, I would make clear the change is solely because of the six stakes). I also for today only would have had two P5s, the normal one on 1-5 and a second all-Grade 1 P5 on the five Grade 1s and told the big bettors today was more about the casual sports fan. On another front, today is also an example of why the laws in New York State need to be changed to allow night thoroughbred racing and why Belmont Park needs lights: This is one of 6-9 programs each year at Belmont I would have as a night program much the way Churchill Downs seems to now do with their bigger cards aside from the Derby and Oaks (tonight is the second of two "Downs After Dark" programs of their new September meet with a 6:00 PM first post and features Fort Larned in the Homecoming Classic), with such at Belmont usually having a 6:15 PM first post and 11 races (meaning a likely 11:35 PM post for the last race on 11-race night programs). Doing just 6-9 such cards at Belmont at night each year would bring out many more younger patrons who think almost anything in the daytime is irrelevant while making each of those programs a true event.