10/01/2005 12:00AM

Borrego stuns rivals in Gold Cup

Borrego with Garrett Gomez up wins the Jockey Gold Cup on Saturday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Beau Greely shipped Borrego from California to New York because he thought the late-running horse would appreciate Belmont's long stretch. Little could Greely have imagined that Borrego would have already taken control of the $1 million well before he turned for home.

Borrego stamped himself as a leading contender for the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic here on Oct. 29 by rolling to a 4 1/2-length victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. His margin could have been greater, but jockey Garrett Gomez geared Borrego down for the final furlong.

Suave finished second, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Sun King. It was another five lengths to Flower Alley, the 3-2 favorite. Imperialism, Grand Reward, Lava Man, and Bishop Court Hill completed the order of finish.

Borrego added the Gold Cup to his victory in the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar, making him the first horse to win both races in the same year.

"Did I think he'd win like that? No,'' said Greely, who trains Borrego for a partnership headed by Jon Kelly and Brad Scott. "I thought he had a shot to win, though."

The Gold Cup couldn't have set up any better for Borrego, who lingered in the back of the pack while Bishop Court Hill, who was in the race to serve as a rabbit for Flower Alley, wound up dueling with a rank Flower Alley and Lava Man through a half-mile in 46.30 seconds. Gomez let Borrego gallop down the backside, and around the turn launched a slingshot move at the seven-sixteenths pole to take the lead just before the quarter pole.

Gomez hit his horse once in the stretch, but basically began to pull him up inside the eighth pole. Borrego, a son of El Prado, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.86 and returned $10.60 as the third choice.

"I really wasn't planning to move as early as I did, but he was doing everything so easily I didn't want to take a chance on letting something recoup and give me a run for our money at any time," Gomez said.

Flower Alley, the Travers winner, will have to regroup in a hurry if he is to be a factor in the Classic.

"I know everybody's going to say the rabbit was why we got beat; it had nothing to do with it," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "Flower Alley was too rank. Whether Bishop Court Hill was in there or not, he was too fresh on the day."