09/27/2014 6:39PM

Tonalist rallies from next to last to score in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Barbara D. Livingston
With blinkers off, Tonalist rallied from next to last Saturday to win the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – A change of equipment combined with a return to his favorite surface proved a recipe for success for Tonalist, who rallied from next to last to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.

Tonalist, who went winless in two starts at Saratoga after winning the Belmont Stakes here in June, defeated Zivo by 1 3/4 lengths. It was two lengths back to the 52-1 shot Long River in third. Tonalist won the Jockey Club as a slight 3-1 favorite over Wicked Strong.

By virtue of his victory in the Gold Cup, Tonalist earned a fees-paid berth into the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.

The race was marred by an incident 4 1/2 furlongs from the wire in which jockey Rajiv Maragh was unseated from Wicked Strong. Maragh was taken by ambulance to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, and according to his valet, Harry Rice, Maragh, told his wife via cell phone that he feared he broke his right arm.

Wicked Strong, according to his trainer, Jimmy Jerkens, was reported to be OK.

The incident was caused when jockey Junior Alvarado allowed Moreno to drift, and Wicked Strong, who was sitting fourth at the time, clipped heels with him. Wicked Strong stumbled and hurled Maragh hard to the ground hard. Maragh may have been kicked by a trailing horse.

Moreno, who finished fourth, was disqualified by the stewards and placed last.

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Stephanoatsee, who finished fifth, was moved to fourth and was followed by V.E. Day, Last Gunfighter, Big Cazanova, and Speak Logistics to complete the order of finish. Micromanage was eased and did not finish the race. Prayer for Relief was scratched by the track veterinarian after twice flipping in the paddock.

Tonalist added the Jockey Club Gold Cup to his victories in the Belmont Stakes and, before that, the Grade 2 Peter Pan, both at Belmont Park.

Tonalist was beaten in both the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga. Christophe Clement, Tonalist’s trainer, felt the horse was too aggressive in the Travers and removed blinkers from the horse’s equipment.

“I probably should have removed the blinkers before the Travers,” said Clement.

Tonalist certainly relaxed as he was next to last, more than 10 lengths back early on.

“I was probably a little far back but never worried about it,” jockey Joel Rosario said. “I don’t want to make him do something he doesn’t want to do.”

Rosario said his momentum was not stopped when Maragh got unseated, though he did have to go one path around. Rosario guided Tonalist back to the inside, and he steadily advanced into contention. Big Cazanova had set the pace of 23.60 seconds for the quarter, 47.42 for the half, and 1:11.26 for six furlongs chased by Moreno and Long River.

Clement said when he saw the half-mile fraction, he was confident the frontrunners “were going to come back a little bit. I didn’t know how much they were going to come back, but I knew they would come back.”

Rosario initially had thought about going to the outside in the stretch, but he guided Tonalist back to the inside where he saw a hole. The hole closed, and Rosario had to take Tonalist off the rail.

Tonalist split horses in mid-stretch and went past Long River inside the eighth pole en route to the victory. Tonalist, a son of Tapit owned by Robert S. Evans, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.12 and returned $8.10 to win.

“From the three-eighths on, I thought he looked really good because without being used, he was getting closer and closer, and you could see the horse was going very well,” Clement said.

Zivo, under Jose Lezcano, also was far back early and made a good run to finish second, likely earning his way to the Breeders’ Cup Classic as well.

“I’d love to take him out to the Classic. I think he fits,” Brown said. “I didn’t see anything today that would deter me from going out there.”

Lily Sieu More than 1 year ago
Poor Wicked Strong has the worst luck. Bad trips in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness. And now this! Maybe his owners need to get him blessed by the Priest or smudged by a Shawman. ;-)
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Cool saw one of my replies were taken down thanks drf. Did not want to get suspended for BC month.lol.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
I'm in trouble again
Eduardo Leon More than 1 year ago
prayers to R. Maragh Gods speed recovery
Mike Puder-Ramirez More than 1 year ago
I nice and thoughtful comment. Kudos, Ed.
Laura Cazares More than 1 year ago
Jerkens had been talking about putting W.S up for the season win or lose. In this case, his loss wasn't his fault. I am looking forward to seeing him go to the B.C and ending on a better note. Unfortunately Rajiv will not be up, but they have time to get a new rider used to breezing W.S. Or who knows, maybe they will use this a reason to put him up, not having his rider. W.S would have won this race, he was running well. Fortunately W.S is okay thankfully, he was a smart enough horse to stay away from everyone. Watching the race again right now, so looks like Junior was waiting for Rajiv....Rajiv was yelling at him before he did it too. Can't wait to hear what Rajiv has to say later. Perhaps this 'issue' had to something to do with the 'issue' in the last race. You know how 'friends' can take things too far. As for Tonalist, in my opinion, he is an okay horse nothing too special. The race was marred therefore it made it easy for him. yeah, they took blinkers off, but given that his main competition was taken out only 4 1/2f before the wire, I am still not convinced with this horse. I love them all as horses/athletes, but this one just doesn't get my vote.
Big Rob stud More than 1 year ago
I saw this coming. How can you stop on WS now? He is in great form, looks better than ever and a 5 million dollar race is around the corner where he would be around 6/1. Not to mention he despised Gulfstream last yr and that is where 90% of the races are over the next 4 months. Why are you even involved in the sport if you are going put of your way to skip the BC with a horse who many pick to have a top 3 finish? If I was in this partnership I'd be livid.
andre johnson More than 1 year ago
Smart ride from rosario.Anyone notices how rosario rarely uses the whip? Migliore on his t.v. show mentions it all the time! I've been at belmont where some of the degenerates complain he doesn"t whip enough thats why he gets beat! Utter nonsense! More riders should follow his lead and not abuse these majestic creatures that give us such entertainment.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
If you keep looking at the Beyers Russell....you will continue to get crushed at the track. This I can tell you...the Beyers mean NOTHING. They are total 100 % useless. Start looking at the pace , who gets the lead and the class and position. Races occur in present time. Those who keep looking at those numbers lose...period. Just trying to help.
Debbie Brooks More than 1 year ago
What happened to Big Casanova? comment said the jock rode him home home under a security hold.What does that mean?
Craig Bradshaw More than 1 year ago
Tonalist appears to be a Belmont surface horse. we'll see how he does when he comes west in November to a different surface.
riskit101 . More than 1 year ago
what do they run on at Belmont? to a list was something to watch.. had 8,11 /3,4,8,11 / 3,4,5,8,11
Debbie Brooks More than 1 year ago
whar happened to Big Casanova?
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
Flat Out part 2 maybe?
flash gordon More than 1 year ago
What about zivo? He had to pull up in the backstretch and still ran gamely.wonder if chad gonna enter him in classic?