10/01/2010 3:46PM

Blame arrives in New York for Jockey Club Gold Cup


ELMONT, N.Y. – Blame and Paddy O’Prado – the favorites for Saturday’s Jockey Club Gold Cup and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, respectively – arrived at Belmont Park about 1:30 p.m. Friday, a day after their scheduled flight from Kentucky was canceled due to inclement weather.

Despite more nasty weather in the New York area Friday, a Tex Sutton flight left Lexington, Ky., about 10 a.m. and flew to MacArthur Airport in Islip as opposed to Republic Airport in Farmingdale, a difference of about 22 miles further east. Blame, Paddy O’Prado, Joe Hirsch starter Bearpath, the 2-year-old filly Silent Joy (Sunday’s Miss Grillo Stakes), and the 3-year-old Prince Will I Am (Jamaica Stakes on Oct. 9) arrived at Belmont about1:30 p.m. and were bedded down in their respective stalls.

Given the fact that Belmont’s main track was a sealed sea of slop Friday morning, Al Stall, trainer of Blame, was content that his horse got to train over the all-weather surface at Keeneland on Friday before boarding a plane.

“I think it worked out better for us,” Stall said after Blame was bedded down in Barn 14. “We stayed in our comfortable stall; he galloped at Keeneland a mile and a half at 6:15 this morning like he would have done if he was here on a dry racetrack. I don’t think anybody did that here.”

As a matter of fact, Gold Cup second-choice Rail Trip, who vanned to Belmont from Aqueduct on Thursday, did not go to the track Friday morning. He was ridden around the shed row by exercise rider Michele Nevin.

Stall said Blame would visit the paddock early Saturday morning before jogging once around the main track.

Paddy O’Prado trained at Churchill Downs on Friday morning before vanning to Lexington. Trainer Dale Romans, who accompanied his 3-year-old on the plane, said he had a back-up plan of running in next weekend’s Jamaica at Belmont had the Tex Sutton flight not taken off Friday.
“I don’t think it was as big a deal for us as it was for Blame,” Romans said. “We really wanted to run here. I want to see how he stacks up at a mile and a half against older horses.”

Like Stall, Romans also believes being in Kentucky on Friday morning was better than being in New York.

“We would have schooled in the gate and in the paddock had we been here, but the way the track is now maybe we wouldn’t have,” Romans said. “As Al said, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. We both got to train on good tracks this morning.”

Though Paddy O’Prado will be trying soft turf, 1 1/2 miles, and facing older horses for the first time, Romans is quite confident entering the race.

“I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t win,” Romans said. “There are a lot of unknowns –
the mile and half is an unknown, the ground’s an unknown, [facing] older horses is an unknown, but he’s jumped through every hoop he’s had too so far.”