09/15/2012 1:13PM

Flat Out, Ron the Greek put in works for Belmont's Jockey Club Gold Cup

Barbara D. Livingston
Flat Out is being pointed to a defense of his title in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – The $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup is still two weeks away, but several key players – including last year’s winner Flat Out – put in workouts for the 1  1/4-mile race Saturday.

Flat Out, who won last year’s Gold Cup by 2 1/4 lengths over Drosselmeyer – the subsequent Breeders’ Cup Classic winner – worked five furlongs in 59.89 seconds over Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track. Saratoga clockers timed Flat Out’s last quarter in 23.09 while catching him galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.

Flat Out won the Gold Cup last year when trained by Scooter Dickey. He has made his last two starts for Bill Mott, finishing second in the Monmouth Cup in July and third, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the Whitney Invitational on Aug. 4 by Fort Larned.

“It looked like each race has been good for him,” Mott said by phone from Saratoga. “It looked like he was off form during the winter, but he ran a credible race at Monmouth and an exceptionally good race in the Whitney. He didn’t win, but it was a very good race.”

In addition to winning the Gold Cup, Flat Out also won the Grade  2 Suburban by 6 1/2 lengths at Belmont last year and is 2 for 2 over the track. Mott had planned to make a rider change from Rosie Napravnik to Junior Alvarado for the Gold Cup, but will need to find somebody else as Alvarado will miss the race due to a fractured collarbone.

Prior to Flat Out working, Mott sent out Ron the Greek for a six-furlong work that was timed in 1:14.05 over the Oklahoma track.

“It was a typical good work for him,” Mott said. “He doesn’t necessarily burn up the track in his works, but he did his job, and it looked like he came back good.”

Ron the Greek is among the leaders of the older male division with his victories in the Santa Anita and Stephen Foster handicaps. He finished second in the Whitney and was held out of the Woodward by design, not necessity, Mott said.

“He came back out of the Whitney well enough where if the Woodward was the last race of the year, we probably would have run back in it,” Mott said. “We didn’t want to push our luck, so we decided to wait for the Gold Cup and hopefully on to the Breeders’ Cup.”

Two other horses pointing to the Gold Cup put in workouts Saturday. At Saratoga, Atigun, third in the Belmont and fourth in the Travers, worked four furlongs in 1:00.40. At Belmont, San Pablo, winner of the Grade 3 Iselin Stakes at Monmouth last out, worked five furlongs in 1:00.52 over the training track. He worked in company with Cal Nation, getting his last quarter in 23.83 while galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.71.

“He seems to be an improving horse, his numbers are a little better every time,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I think the mile and a quarter will suit him well; he’s got a grinding style.”

Others pointing to the Gold Cup include Whitney winner Fort Larned, Donn Handicap winner Hymn Book, and Travers third-place finisher Fast Falcon. Alternation, the Pimlico Special and Oaklawn Handicap winner, is still under consideration, according to trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Other workers of note Saturday at Saratoga included Zagora, who went a half-mile in 49.88 in preparation for the Flower Bowl, and Fort Loudon, the King’s Bishop runner-up, who went four furlongs in 48.92. Fort Loudon is a candidate for either the $300,000 Gallant Bob at Parx Racing on Sept. 22 or the $400,000 Kelso at Belmont on Sept. 29, according to trainer Nick Zito.

◗ Questing, preparing for next Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion at Parx, worked four furlongs in 48.40 over the synthetic surface at the Godolphin training center Saturday.