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Jockey Club Gold Cup: Ron the Greek shows he's still got it
ELMONT, N.Y. - If Bill Mott had his druthers, he would have run Ron the Greek in Saturday’s $400,000 Kelso Invitational going a mile at Belmont Park rather than the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles.
Mott had two-time defending Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Flat Out in the race, and with Ron the Greek having lost his last five starts, Mott thought it might be time to try something different with the 6-year-old son of Full Mandate.
“I thought maybe it’s time to back Ron up to a mile,” Mott said. “I really believe he can close and finish with milers if he gets the proper pace in front of him.”
Mott’s owners Adam Wachtel, Nils Brous and Gary Barber wanted to give Ron the Greek one more shot in a big race. That decision paid off huge as Ron the Greek delivered one of the best performances of his career, romping to a 6 3/4-length victory in Saturday’s $1 million Gold Cup before 10,549 on a gorgeous afternoon.
“I felt strongly about running in this race,” Wachtel said by phone from Pennsylvania where he had a prior engagement. “If Bill said he didn’t think it was the right thing to do, then we wouldn’t have run, but he didn’t feel that strongly about it. He’s a Grade 1 horse and you never know when he’s going to run a big race.”
The victory earned Ron the Greek a fees-paid trip to Santa Anita and the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race in which he finished fourth last year. Ron the Greek won the Santa Anita Handicap there in 2012.
Palace Malice, the Belmont Stakes winner, finished second in the Gold Cup by 1 3/4 lengths over Flat Out, who suffered just his second loss in seven starts at Belmont. They were followed in the order of finish by Vitoria Olimpica, Last Gunfighter, Alpha, Cross Traffic - a front-runner who broke horribly and was last early - and Orb, the Kentucky Derby winner.
The win capped a tremendous return for jockey Jose Lezcano, who was riding for the first time since he broke his wrist at Saratoga on Aug. 25. In addition to winning the Gold Cup, Lezcano won the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational aboard Laughing on Saturday.
The connections of Ron the Greek had been frustrated because they felt the late-running horse had been compromised by slow paces in his races. Saturday, Ron the Greek was sitting third, within three lengths of Alpha, who set the pace after Cross Traffic, the expected pacesetter, had all four of his legs go in different directions at the start.
Ron the Greek was within three lengths of Alpha through six furlongs in 1:10.78. Approaching the quarter pole, Lezcano shot Ron the Greek inside of Alpha, and turning for home they were in front. The race was over then.
“I’m surprised too,” Lezcano said. “Like a different horse. I never asked him for nothing. He broke good, he put himself there, and when I asked him responded. He went to the lead and never stopped. He always would put the brakes on a little bit. Today, he took off and never stopped.”
Ron the Greek covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.70, the fastest time for the Gold Cup since Evening Attire ran 1:59.58 in 2002. Sent off at 21-1, Ron the Greek returned $44 to win.
“This is the Ron the Greek today,” Mott said. “This is the same type of race he ran in the Sunshine Millions, the same kind of race he ran in California when he won the Santa Anita Handicap, and every once in a while he’ll thrown one of these. I can’t determine when, but he did it today. It looked like if he had shaken the reins at him he would have been on the lead.”
Mott said both Ron the Greek and Flat Out would go on to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Flat Out finished third in the Classic last year.
Owner Cot Campbell said Palace Malice would also go to the Classic.
The connections of Kentucky Derby winner Orb will have some soul-searching to do after his last-place performance. Jockey Javier Castellano, riding Orb for the first time, said his horse was empty.
“Past the five-eighths pole he didn’t want to be any part of the race,” Castellano said. “He was just flat.”
Oh come on, another Orb bashing ??? sounds to me like someone is mad because he didn't bet Orb in the Derby and was kicking himself, after the Derby he started to bet on Orb and has lost alot of money betting on Orb so now here we are with Orb being bashed when in fact it's all really about losing bets on Orb that has created this Orb bashers. Quick tip to help all the Orb bashers, QUICK BETTING ON HIM AND THAT WAY YOU WON'T BE SO BITTER TOWARDS THE HORSE. In gambling you need to know when to play them and when to avoid them, and in the case od Orb you Orb bashers sorry to tell you but your chance to make money on him was in the Derby and that ship sailed back in May. Sorry you missed the ship and are now in a life raft from the Orb ship that had deflated and has left you in the shark infested water.
35 years in the game. I believe these horses are tired, and Mott's horse doesn't try every time. But he is Bill Mott, and for my money he is the best. So many trainer's have upset the traditions set by great horsemen, but not Bill Mott. Classy guy, and I wish him all the best.
I am done licking my wounds. Back at it
Jamie- just because you buy a prospect stallion does not mean hes a star. A lot of Unbridled Song's offspring have problems at 1 1/4 miles.
IF Graydar enters the Classic its Game over for the Dude and everyone else. Here is my logic Will Farish bought into this horse to stand at Stud after his racing career is over. They have never stood a son of Unbridled Song. He must have all the tools not just speed but also the Stamina to be a classic and sire a classic type of Horse.Kudos to these people who have taken there time with this son of unbridleds song. This horse can rate he will stay behind Larned and GAME ON DUDE.
Never count out a Bill Mott-trained horse. He's the best in the biz if you ask me.
I said it the day after the derby that Orb will NEVER win another race again. He got the perfect setup that day with a sloppy track. I just hope he runs in the breeders cup so the odds are better for the real competition. Thanks Orb fans for putting a lot of money in my pockets since the Preakness...
Brenda http://www.drf.com/news/belmont-jockey-club-gold-cup-cast-all-have-good-credentials There you go. Besides the knocks on Orb . There you go. Scroll down . Winner and exacta posted day before race was run. Have a nice life.
I strongly encourage the G.O.D supporters to wager big and often. When some real speed enters the race on 11/2, the Dude will show what kind of Dud he is. The west coast old horse division is as pathetic as it gets. If Cross Traffic starts, do you really think Dude will get the lead? How about Grayder? Fort Larnard is going to gun it. Dude has shown time after time that he is worthless trying to stalk. He gets rank. Watch the replays.
Sorry, but we are all still chasing the Dude. That was a great pick on RTG which shows the weakness of the 3 yr olds and Flat Out. Orb definitely lost a big piece of his bragging rights with a no show race. Will he go in Classic? PM did not bounce again so he put a hoof forward for 3 yr old award. MMM and FL came back to life so that's a plus for Classic. As for RD, no Classic and maybe no Distaff. Just seemed to be hobbling down the stretch. Maybe Beholder instead against CH for title?