The Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup will be run at Belmont Park on Saturday, October 3rd, and the favorite for the ten furlong test will likely be Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1) hero Summer Bird. He is the other bird no more, and he has become especially dangerous since adding blinkers and showing much improved tactical speed.
The Tim Ice runner should take up a nice stalking position once again, but a horse he vanquished in the Travers (G1) might turn the tables on him, and his name is Quality Road.
Many might remember Quality Road as the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby before foot problems forced him to sit out the Triple Crown series. He returned with authority in a graded sprint score at the Spa, and then came the Travers.
He was actually favored in the midsummer Derby, but everything went wrong. First , he caught a wet track. Then, after a less than ideal beginning, he was hemmed in throughout and never got into a comfortable prominent throughout rhythm. His 3rd place effort was better than appears given the troubled journey and one sprint prep in 5+ months.
The Travers was actually a perfect prep for the JC Gold Cup, and look for Quality Road to be on or near the lead throughout.
In addition to the aforementioned duo, the JC Gold Cup is also expected to attract Macho Again, who almost upset Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward. I had the pleasure of seeing Macho Again up close and personal in the ’08 Super Derby.
A couple of other graded 3yo events are on the slate for Saturday, starting with the Ohio Derby.
Gone Astray is the big name in the signature race at Thistledown. The Shug McGaughey runner ran out of his mind in the Penn Derby, and he could have this group over a barrel.
Gallant ships in from Canada, and Kentucky Derby pacesetter Join in the Dance looms the target. Giant Oak and Karama also cross-entered in the Indiana Derby.
The Grade 2 Indiana Derby has attracted no less than fifteen horses, and Misremembered will invader from Southern California. The Bob Baffert runner was briefly considering a tilt in the Super Derby, but he elected to stay home and tackle older in the Pacific Classic. He was done in by a demanding pace that day, and if he handles regular dirt he should be a major factor in Indiana.
Rebel hero Win Willy was injured after the Arkansas Derby, and he returned with a close-up show finish in an Arlington sprint. He might need another outing before getting back on the beam.
Keep an eye on the late developing Sumo. He looked good at the Spa last time, and Graham Motion almost sent him to the Super Derby, but he gave him two more weeks and should be primed for another sharp stalking effort.
For the 3yo filly fans, keep an eye on Careless Jewel in the Grade 2 Cotillion at Philly Park. She might be on her way to the Breeders’ Cup with another Alabama like effort.