Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade I)

The 34th Breeders’ Cup is set for Friday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 4th and this year’s championship races will be contested from Del Mar Thoroughbred Club for the first time.  Two fantastic days of racing will showcase a whopping 14 Grade 1 events with four races on Friday and a mouth-watering nine Grade 1’s in succession on Saturday.  Del Mar will have 10 races in total on Friday and 12 races set down for decision on Saturday’s banner program.  First post at Del Mar is 11:25 a.m. on Friday and 10:10 a.m. on Saturday.

Come spend a weekend of racing you’re not soon to forget right here at the Jockey Club in Santa Rosa. Doors will open by 10 a.m. on Friday and Saturday with admission just $3.00 to enter the facility.  Looking for a more plush and personalized experience?  Turf club tables and individual seats are available for purchase while supplies last.  An investment of $50 secures you a table of four which is good for both days and includes table service.  Individual seats in the turf club are available as well for $15 per person.

Enjoy food and drink specials from Big Boys Bar-B-Q, free prize giveaways including Harvest Fair wines, gift certificates to the 2018 Sonoma County Fair, a complimentary turf club table good for the 2018 Kentucky Derby and much, much more. Tell your friends and make plans to join us, contact us at (707)-524-6340 for further details!

Can Arrogate bounce back at Del Mar, or is it Gun Runner’s world now and we’re just living in it? Is there another horse out there in the mist who could have a say in the $6,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Classic?  The Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup could provide more insight and illumination to that question and so it will serve as this weekend’s spotlight race for the analysis.

Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup- 1 & ¼ Miles

Belmont Park—Race # 10. Post Time: 2:23 PT

For Three-Year-Olds and Upward

Analysis by Michael Patricks

1-Diversify 7/2 ML– Ironically named in that he presumably has just one way of going and that’s to play the role of train conductor going full throttle with the pedal down. The inside draw from this unique configuration indisputably means more gasoline early so you can basically take it as gospel that he’ll be your torch bearer from the sound of the starter’s pistol.  New York-bred has batted his state-bred brethren around like a collective group of piñatas in his last couple of efforts.  There does not appear to be a host of speed from this heptad but with Todd Pletcher sending his troika out after a $750,000 purse, you can rest assured it’s not going to be a casual afternoon for Diversify playing the role of Sherpa.  The 108 Beyer speed figure in his last start came against just a trinity of foes and given the climb up the class ladder and added distance at his feet, I’m not including him as part of my wagering portfolio; pace player will get a class call.

2-Highland Sky 20/1 ML– Longest shot in the field will be making his debut on the main track and appears to be outmanned, but his trainer Barclay Tagg is no rookie in this game and note that the same move of turf-to-dirt paid huge dividends to his rival drawn next door in the Grade II Jim Dandy. He’s 1-for-5 this year and has been outkicked to the wire on several occasions, but again, that’s a completely different surface.  How will he react when he takes a bunch of kickback for the first time?  His turf starts at Saturday’s distance show that he can handle the trip, but the question is: where will his mind and body be when they turn for home?  If you’re going to roll the dice, at least this is a justifiable price to do it.  Having said that, it feels a bit more like pie in the sky than it being Highland Sky’s day; passing on him.

3-Good Samaritan 8/1 ML– Woke up with grandeur with his switch in surfaces in the Jim Dandy but regressed to his usual mean while going off as a luke-warm favorite in the Grade 1 Travers. His decline in performance could have more to do with the amount of traffic he faced than anything else.  In the Jim Dandy, Pavel, Always Dreaming and Cloud Computing essentially lined up and slugged it out throughout and Good Samaritan without a straw in his path fully capitalized on the embattled leaders.  The Blinkers are added to try and get him to stay closer up and note this is his first start against older.  Rosario sticks with him and “Big Sandy” could help wear down his competition, but many “ifs” are abound here; tricky ready for sure.

4-Pavel 5/2 ML– Made play quite nicely in the Smarty Jones and came home with authority to a six-length score. Good Samaritan blew by him like a freight train passing a hobo in the Jim Dandy but that was Pavel’s two turn debut, graded-stakes debut, and first try against winners.  These connections were dealt a tough blow with Irap a couple weeks ago so it would be nice to see him take up the running for his wounded stable mate.  How you feel about Pavel most likely depends on how you feel about this three-year-old crop.  The late blooming West Coast, Good Samaritan and of course Pavel appear to be the best of the group, whereas Always Dreaming, Cloud Computing and Tapwrit certainly are tremendous question marks going forward.  It will be up to Mario Gutierrez to time his ride accordingly around this unique configuration, but Pavel is a major player if he can take yet another step forward; perhaps his best is yet to come?

5-Rally Cry 6/1 ML-First of three for Todd Pletcher, Rally Cry chased Gun Runner in vain who handled him and the rest of the cast with disdain in the Woodward. His Alydar at Saratoga produced his lifetime effort but like Diversify in his best performance, just who exactly was he beating?  His top performances have been in races with lesser lights and he’s had no trouble putting the war paint on to achieve great ends in those spots.  However, he was pasted in the Grade III Gotham, gave out in the Grade 1 Met Mile, and mopped up futilely last time in the Woodward, a race where someone had to run second behind the runaway train in Gun Runner.  In short, when the bright lights go on he’s been a shrinking violet for the most part.  Velazquez sticks but he’s a tricky read for sure.

6-Destin 12/1 ML– His most memorable moment came in devastating defeat in the 2016 Belmont Stakes when Creator jumped up out of the ground to hang it on him in the last stride. Destin was a wise-guy horse in the Kentucky Derby and ever since his midpack nibbling effort on the first Saturday in May, he’s been mired in mediocrity.  You know the talent is there with Destin but to a large extent it lies dormant and it’s difficult to know when he’s going to run a big race.  He was life and death in a non-winners of three allowance at The Spa back in August and ran hooked for the last three furlongs before ultimately getting the nod.  Johnny V bails for Rally Cry but Saez and Pletcher have had success before.  He’ll need to offer a triple-digit Beyer to take down the top prize and at this point in the game it’s difficult to see that result in the likely forecast; also, I’m not entirely convinced Destin won’t be sent out of the gate to force the issue and keep the pace honest with Keen Ice the most likely third party beneficiary; looks to be in a bit tough.

7-Keen Ice 9/5 ML– Morning line favorite enters the starting gate 3-for-23 but can boast that he once beat American Pharoah and his top Beyer number came at today’s track and distance in the Suburban. Ten furlongs appears to be right in his wheel house and with Pletcher having three horses enlisted to do battle, you have to think at least one of them will go out there and do his bidding for him, making sure the pace is honest and sincere.  Keen Ice has been favored three times in his past performances and he finished sixth, third and second from those three efforts.  He’s typically at his best when the attention is focused elsewhere and that won’t be the case in the Gold Cup.  Logical player but he has chinks in the armor which make it difficult to embrace him with a bear hug, and obviously the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is in California on November 4th, not on Saturday; obvious contender but if you’re scratching your head a bit it’s likely for good reason.

Selections: 4-7-5-3