Diversify Exits Jockey Club Gold Cup in Good Order

The final Breeders’ Cup preps are in the books and we are less than a month away from the year end championship.(Photo Cheryl Ann Quigley / Bigstock)

(From NYRA) Ralph M. and Lauren Evans’ New York-bred Diversify emerged from his one-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in good order, as the connections mull whether to send the 4-year-old Bellamy Road gelding to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
“So far, so good,” said Ralph Evans by phone, who co-owns Diversify with his daughter Lauren. “He came out of the race fine. He scoped clean, no more tired than normal after a race like that. We’ll wait a few more days and make whatever decisions we have to make from there.”

While Diversify’s gate-to-wire Jockey Club Gold Cup triump earned the Rick Violette, Jr. trainee an all-fees-paid berth in the $6 million Classic on November 4 at Del Mar, Evans said a Breeders’ Cup bid is far from set in stone, adding that the connections will make a decision about his fall campaign after Diversify returns to the track in the coming days.

“We think, with a 4-year-old gelding, hopefully we have a bright future,” said Evans. “There’s lots of good races ahead, whether they’re New York-bred [stakes] or not. The Breeders’ Cup is very seductive, particularly having the entry fee paid and everything. To go out there and try to beat Arrogate and Gun Runner and so forth is probably a tall order. Some owners might say, well if I run third, it’s still $500,000 or what have you, but I’m not sure if I’m in that camp at the moment. My idea is to have a good 5-year-old and a good 6-year-old.”

Purchased in November by the Evans as a racing prospect for $210,000, Diversify has been a solid runner with seven wins from 10 lifetime starts, and seems tobe enjoying a meteoric 4-year-old campaign.

Diversify easily won his first start for his new owners in December and started 2017 with an allowance score against open company in January and transitioned to open company stakes in the Stymie in March, where he faded to seventh, six lengths behind Sunny Ridge. He was the runner-up to Rally Cry in an open allowance in April before making a wide, off-the-pace run in the Commentator for New York-breds, where he came up a nose short of Weekend Hideaway. 

He got some much-needed racing experience while facing New York-breds over the summer, first in the Saginaw in July at Belmont where, despite breaking through the gate prior to the start, he edged clear to a 2 ¾-length win, and then in the Evan Shipman on August 21, where he wired the field at Saratoga Race Course and drew off by an eye-catching 11 ½ lengths.

“You don’t win seven out of 10 regardless of competition unless you’re good,” said Evans. “In the Stymie, he got caught down on the rail late in the race. He was not going to win, but he was shut off a bit and would’ve been somewhat closer than what he got beat there. That was his first effort in open company stakes and I think he’s probably a bit more seasoned and a bit better horse now than he was then. At least that’s what it appears to be.

“We knew we had a nice New York-bred when we tried him in the Stymie, but it seems as if the light bulb has gone on, if you will,” he added. “Based on his last two races, we moved our expectations up quite a bit.”

Those expectations led them to the Jockey Club Gold Cup, where he earned a 107 Beyer Speed Figure, close to the personal-best 108 he earned for his Evan Shipman win.

“His last two races before this race had been exceptional and we have learned that given a moderate early pace, he’s very difficult to run down,” Evans said. “So, we came into this race obviously concerned about the distance, as I’m sure some of the other horses were as well, but the game plan has been the same as the last few races, try and make as easy a lead as possible. He has a relatively high cruising speed and he’s very tough to run down. The game plan was the same, the competition was clearly a lot different.”

Evans said Diversify is likely for one more race in 2017 and, if the connections decide to skip the Breeders’ Cup, the gelding would be under strong consideration for the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile Handicap on December 2 at Aqueduct Racetrack.

“Looking at the Breeders’ Cup, if we chose not to run there, perhaps the field for the Cigar Mile would not come up quite as tough as it ought to,” he said. “All things being considered, he might run once more this year and he might not run at all. I just want to be confident that I’ve got a 5-year-old and Rick knows that and he’s very careful. He gave him seven weeks between his last race and this one so we weren’t in a hurry necessarily to do something. Being a little guy, it’s not like if this one doesn’t work out, I’ve got one right behind him and one right behind that one. He is my stable star, so we’re trying to take good care of him.”

*         *         *

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is planning to be California-bound in a few weeks as he has a few runners pointed to this year’s Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar from November 3-4, but also has other options across the country.

Entering the 2017 Breeders’ Cup, Mott has saddled 10 winners from 92 starters in the annual event, and is hoping to add to that total beginning with the Japanese-bred Yoshida, who looks to build off his victory in the Grade 3 Hill Prince.

“He’s on his way up to Saratoga, he’ll train up there,” Mott said. “We’re going to put the Breeders’ Cup Mile as an option, and maybe the Hollywood Derby as an option.”

The Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Mile is set for November 4. The Grade 1 Hollywood Derby is scheduled for November 25.

The son of Heart’s Cry finished fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational before finishing as the runner-up in his two previous graded stakes tries beginning with the Grade 2 Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and Grade 3 Saranac. The colt added the James W. Murphy to his win column following his maiden victory in his second start for owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International Ltd., SF Racing LLC, and Head of Plains Partners.

Good Samaritan, who carries the colors for the same owners, will not run in the Breeders’ Cup, but a decision on his next start will be made down the line after his fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

“He’s on his way up to Saratoga, he’ll train up there, but I don’t think he’ll be in a Breeders Cup race,” said Mott.

The son of Harlan’s Holiday finished third in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita to close out his freshman year, then returned with two second place finishes in the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes and Grade 3 Pennine Ridge before a fourth place finish ahead of Yoshida in the Belmont Derby Invitational.

A strong closing victory by 4 ¾ lengths over Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming [third place] and Preakness winner Cloud Computing [fifth place] in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy sent him to the Grade 1 Travers as the 3-1 favorite, where he finished a disappointing fifth.

Claiborne Farm & Adele B. Dilschneider’s Elate will try to stretch her victory streak to three at the Breeders’ Cup after winning the Grade 1 Alabama and Beldame Stakes respectively. The daughter by Medaglia d’Oro, who also tallied a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks as well as a third place finish in the Grade 3 Honeybee, could make her next start in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, Mott said. 

“She’s up in Saratoga. She’s doing fine, she’s doing great. We’re heading to the Breeders’ Cup. That’s our plan.”

*         *         *

Finishing a game second in Saturday’s Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, trainer Todd Pletcher reported Donegal Racing’s multiple graded stakes winner Keen Icecame out of the race in good order as well as stablemates Destin and Rally Cry, who ran fifth and sixth, respectively.

Failing to pick up an automatic all-entries-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic with a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Pletcher thought Keen Ice’s race in which he matched a career-high 106 Beyer Speed Figure was a good enough effort to serve as a useful prep heading towards the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 4 at Del Mar. 

“He came back good,” said Pletcher. “Hats off to the winner, he ran a good race. We were hoping for a little more pace pressure on him. I thought he put in a good long sustained run and just couldn’t get there. I think he ran his race. He matched his career-best Beyer and we would’ve love to have won but I thought he ran his race.”

The 2-year-old Montauk, who impressively broke his maiden by 11 ¼ lengths on Saturday’s card in his first start, also returned from his race well, according to Pletcher. Although not certain, the option to enter into the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is being discussed.

“He had been training very well,” said Pletcher. “We were hoping for a good effort from him and we certainly got that. We think he’s talented enough so we’ll have a conversation about the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but we’re based in New York and to only have had one start and travel to Del Mar where the likely favorite [Bolt d’Oro] has had two races over that track and three starts already it would be a tall order, but we’ll give it some time.”

Another impressive win on Saturday’s card for the Pletcher barn came in the third race, when 3-year-old Copper Town took an allowance race by 6 ¼ lenghts making only his third start for owners WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, S.F. Racing and Head of Plains Partners. 

“He’s a promising horse as he’s shown in his last two races,” said Pletcher. “He looked very good and I like the way he handled the step up in class and stretch out in distance. We’ll play it by ear from here but he’ll likely be pointed for the [Grade 3, $200,000] Discovery or the Cigar Mile.

Lastly, Pletcher reported Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Pure Silver, who last out ran fourth in the Grade 1 Spinaway on September 2 at the Spa, would breeze Monday morning at Saratoga if the weather cooperates and depending the outcome would be pointed for the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron on October 15 at Belmont.

*         *         *

Trainer Jason Servis said Sunday morning that Mr. Amore Stable’s Firenze Fireappeared to come out of his victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Champagne in good order after winning the qualifier for the Grade 1, $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on November 4 at Del Mar. 

Firenze Fire, the only entrant in the 12-horse field to have previously won a graded stakes  – capturing the Grade 3 Sanford on July 22 at Saratoga Race Course – rallied from 10th at the half-mile mark to win the Champagne’s 146th edition by a half-length.

Servis said Firenze Fire, who has three wins in his first four career starts, is on target to run in the Breeders’ Cup after earning the all-expenses paid berth.

His stablemate, Full of Run, finished eighth in his stakes debut after winning his first start on August 26 at Monmouth Park.

“Both appear to have come out of the race OK,” Servis said. “Firenze Fire ran great and everyone is happy.”

The win marked Servis’ seventh career graded stakes victory and his first in a Grade 1. He has three of those wins in the current campaign, including Actress’ win in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan.

“It feels great,” said Servis, who won his first graded stakes in 2008 with American Border finding the winner’s circle in the Grade 3 Violet.

Firenze Fire, a 2-year-old Poseidon’s Warrior colt, earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure for his win. The Florida homebred’s only off-the-board career finish came with a fourth-place effort in the Grade 1 Hopeful on September 4 at the Spa.

*         *         *

Improving his record at Belmont Park this year to a perfect 4-for-4 with a victory in Saturday’s Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational, trainer Christophe Clement reported 5-year-old Disco Partner came out of the race in good order. 

“He looked good this morning and came back in good shape,” said Clement. “It’s very exciting.”

Cutting back to six furlongs for the Belmont Sprint after finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Fourstardave on August 12 at Saratoga, Disco Partner once again proved his effectiveness at sprint distances previously setting the world record for six furlongs on the turf in the Grade 3 Jaipur on June 10.

Looking forward, Clement said he would discuss with owners Mr. and Mrs. Generazio on the possibility of entering for the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint at five furlongs on November 4 at Del Mar, where he could possibly join stablemate Pure Sensation. Owned by the same connections, Pure Sensation won the Grade 3 Turf Monster on September 4 at Parx Racing. 

“It’s a possibility that we’ll have both Disco Partner and Pure Sensation for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint but I’ll have to confirm it with Mr. Generazio,” said Clement. 

Making his first start since winning the Grade 3 Kent Stakes on July 15 at Parx, Clement also reported 3-year-old Frostmourne exited the Grade 3 Hill Prince in good order after finishing fourth. 

“I think he ran a winning race, it just looked like in the last 50 yards he got a bit tired to me,” said Clement.

Lastly, Clement reported 3-year-old filly Best Performance, who ran a very game second in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo, would next be pointed to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on November 3 at Del Mar.

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