10/03/2009 1:03PM

Gold Cup Day '09


Overcast and gloomy but still fast and good for today's Jockey Club Gold Cup and four other Grade 1 races at Belmont. Just a few sprinkles overnight and the latest forecasts call for some clearing this afternoon and no precipitation until around 6 p.m. The stakes racing starts with the Beldame at 3:23 pm ET and the Gold Cup post is scheduled for 5:43 pm.


Just four betting interests in each of the first two stakes. The Beldame has a field of five, three of them trained by Pletcher, with Unbirdled Belle and Captain's Lover coupled and With Flying Colors on her own at 20-1. Music Note figures to be 3-5 or less. In the Vosburgh, Peace Chant has been scratched, leaving Fabulous Strike 4-5ish against Munnings, Kodiak Kowboy and Go Go Shoot. Also, as expected, Christophe Clement has scratched Carribean Sunset from the Flower Bowl and Winchester from the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. Ready's Echo also is out of the Turf Classic and will instead run tomorrow in the five-horse Kelso Handicap. So the five Grade 1's today are left with fields of 5, 4, 7, 7, and 7.

Multirace players like this one will have to decide whether to focus on the $500k-guaranteed pick-4 (Vosburgh, Flower Bowl, Turf Classic Gold Cup) or the no-carryover pick-6 where those four races are bookended by the Beldame and a 12-horse finale of statebred maidens on the grass. Not that there's a law against playing both. If you think the interior four races are chalky and have the makings of a $62 pick-4, you could go one or two deep in the Beldame and try to blow things out in the finale if you have some clever ideas there. I'm still looking for some.

The Flower Bowl looks like the most open race in the pick-4 sequence. Pure Clan may go off as the favorite but has neither any edge on the field nor a performance anywhere in her career that stacks up with the top efforts by Criticism, Dynafoce or Moneycantbuymelove. I can't see Leamington or Queen of Hearts winning the race, but have all five others open.

The Gold Cup itself is a really good race on paper. Summer Bird likes the track and distance and may be the most likely winner but I'm not entirely sold on him if Macho Again or Quality Road fires his very best shot. I'm not knocking the favorite, just slightly reserved because I don't think any of his top opponents in either the Belmont or Travers really ran his race. (In the Belmont, Dunkirk did the dirty work up front and came out of the race injured while Mine That Bird got a poorly-trimed ride; in the Travers, Quality Road struggled with the footing and Kensei didn't run his race.)

If Summer Bird does prevail, he'll be the first horse to win the Belmont, Travers and Gold Cup since Easy Goer 20 years ago.

I'm heading out to Belmont soon. Full report later tonight or in the morning.

---I've gotten a few comments about the new Weekend section that will appear in Saturday editions of DRF starting today, but this blog isn't the best place to discuss it. Please address any thoughts about it to weekend@drf.com, where I've forwarded your comments.

M.D.Fleming More than 1 year ago
Running horses on poly or syn,is just as bad as feeding meat to cows,you remember the results.Maybe we should have track and field races on corn starch,just to give the slower ones a better chance.They done love horses they crave excitement.If horses could talk they would be on strike. posted by Mike Fleming Oct 23,2009 8:40pm
Justin More than 1 year ago
For John: Jesiere Medina suffered a broken collarbone, she will miss about 2 months. Gio Ponti may have been my most expensive beat in about 4 years, between the Pick 4 and Pick 6 that hang may have cost me $40,000. So I am taking the rest of the month off to get ready for the Breeders Cup. For Mitch: Hang in there pal, there are better days ahead!! Good luck fellas.
ejs More than 1 year ago
The question for handicappers to consider going forward is: Did Eskendereya break his maiden in a graded stakes race, or in a glorified NW2?
Ken More than 1 year ago
All I know is that Mike Dickinson is on the record as saying that the tech now exists to have a grass course constructed that can handle up to almost any amount of rain that can be thrown at it. If its the riders that won't ride the course then NYRA should say so. We think its safe riders say no way and all races are off the grass. If it was unsafe Sunday then why did they risk jockey life and limb on Saturday? The safety issue is BS!
ml/nj More than 1 year ago
Re Saturday Weather: It certainly was a surprise to come back into the house to watch the the Vosburgh and barely be able to see the starting gate. We had no rain at all here Saturday afternoon about 30 miles west of Belmont.
Qev More than 1 year ago
I wonder which division of the Turf Classic Gio Ponti will actually run in. Will it be the traditional Turf Classic or, the more recently added division of the Turf Classic...formerly known as The Classic?
Manny Fernandez-W More than 1 year ago
Good evening Mr. Crist: This is is not a comment, but rather a question. What has happened to Coa? He had a horrible Saratoga meet which carried over from the previous one. Then he began to pick up the pace at Belmont, albeit with little money, and suddenly the guy is riding at Calder. Is he planning to return or is his business in NYC kaput? Did he lose his agent? Was the break up with Tagg that costly? I'd appreciate your view on this. Thanks, Manny Fernandez-W. maferwin@gmail.com
Mike More than 1 year ago
Mitch_from_NJ, hang in there buddy. We've all lost it on occasion. Don't let one decision (Gio Ponti appeared to be a lock before the race and at the 1/8th pole) send you down the wrong road. Take a little time to regroup then bear down to get back on track. There's a lot of good racing/opportunities still to come in '09. Then there's always 2010. Remember the two most important D's in horseplaying - discipline and determination. Good luck!
Wayne80 More than 1 year ago
Ya think Precious Passion's connections are kicking themself this morning? He would have been very tough to catch on that course, sometimes these folks just overthink the situation. As another example, Holthus almost scracthed Pure Clan based on his oft stated opinion that she does not like soft turf, yet her pp's scream out otherwise. Bizarre, lucky for him, and me, that the rains came too late for him to scratch.
Teresa More than 1 year ago
Shortly after the end of the last race on Saturday, the press box was informed that Jesiere Medina had been taken to the hospital for an injured shoulder. Haven't heard anything since.