With less than a month to go before the Breeders’ Cup, the action gets fast and furious on Saturday with seven Win and You’re In” races on tap including the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park.
A field of seven will line up led by a trio of runners from the Todd Pletcher barn—morning line favorite Keen Ice (9-5), Woodward (G1) runner up Rally Cry (6-1) and last year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) runner up Destin (12-1).
A pair of talented three-year-olds take on their elders—Smarty Jones (G3) winner Pavel (5-2) and Jim Dandy (G2) winner Good Samaritan (8-1).
Completing the field is the speedy Diversify (7-2) and longshot Highland Sky (20-1).
The winner of the race stamps a fee-expenses paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on Nov. 4 at Del Mar.
Saturday’s card at Belmont Park also features the $500,000 Champagne (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
The $500,000 Hill Prince (G3) serves as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) and the $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational could produce a starter or two for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1).
Keeneland serves up four Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on Saturday—the $500,000 Futurity (G1), $400,000 First Lady (G1), $1 million Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) and the $250,000 Thoroughbred Club of America (G2).
Santa Anita hosts the $300,000 Santa Anita Sprint Championship (G1), a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1).
I will have analysis and selections for all of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge races in Saturday’s Best Plays Report.
Let’s head out to Belmont Park for Saturday’s featured raced of the day:
Belmont Park Race 10 The Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) Post time 5:23 ET
4 Pavel 5-2
3 Good Samaritan 8-1
7 Keen Ice 9-5
5 Rally Cry 6-1
Pavel is lightly raced with just three starts under his belt, but he rolled over his foes last out in the Smarty Jones (G3) at Philly, winning by six lengths in a good-looking effort. He broke his maiden in his debut at Santa Anita in July and then was fourth in the Jim Dandy (G2) at the Spa, behind our second choice in here. Three-year-olds have fared well in this race, taking four of the last 11 editions of this race. The colt should get a good tracking trip sitting off what could be a sharp pace.
Good Samaritan finally made his dirt debut in the Jim Dandy (G2) two back and is produced career top speed fig in a sharp win. He returned in the Travers (G1) where I thought he had a good shot of winning right back but he was outrun early and made a mild late run to finish fifth. The winner West Coast came back to win the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) in his next outing on Sept. 23 by 7 ¼ lengths. Mott decides to add blinkers here and looking for him to bounce back with a better effort in this spot.
Keen Ice stumbled coming out of the gate and rallied to finish in the runner up spot behind Gun Runner last out in the Whitney (G1). The winner came back to win the Woodward (G1) in his next outing on Sept. 2 at the Spa. He was not a threat in a seventh place finish in the Dubai World Cup (G1) back in March but has earned solid numbers in his two starts since including a sharp win in the Suburban (G2) two back here at today’s distance. He looks tough but his price may end up on the light side.
WIN: Pavel to win at 5-2 or better.
EXACTA: 3,4 / 3,4,5,7
TRIFECTA: 3,4 / 3,4,5,7 / 1,3,4,5,7