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Jockey Club Gold Cup preview

Super Saturday at Belmont racetrack in New York. Regular US racing contributor Jon da Silva, @creamontop chimes in with some previews of a fantastic day's racing.

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Jockey Club Gold Cup
1 mile 2F Dirt
Belmont


BTW if you want to visit a race meeting in the US, this is the one! You get five Group 1s costing $2 to get in. Contested in front of a minuscule crowd in a stand capable of holding 10s of 1000s. Pick your row not just your seat.

Although this is clearly a big prize and before the Breeders Cup would have been a season-ending super race. Now it's the final prep where many 3 year olds will try the older brigade for the first time.

This race would not disgrace a Breeders Cup Classic frankly. We have: classic winners Orb and Palace Malice: against the upcoming sensation Cross Traffic: the King of Belmont and holder Flat Out: not to mention the horse Alpha who pipped him in the Whitney with one writer looking like a douche having said he was a goat: not to mention the last horse to finish in front of Wise Dan Ron the Greek.

This is a trial and when looking ahead be aware Blame was beaten 4 lengths here by Haynesfield before lowering Zenyatta's colours in the Classic.

Prices best available from UK Bookies. I think morning lines are at best a guess and with so many public horses likely to serve up some PMU value so might be worth keeping some powder for nearer the time.

Ron the Greek 16s
Whilst no real excuses for his last 2 drubbings (behind Alpha and Cross Traffic) some suggestion he was on the wrong part of the track. Has been below form this year however you look at it. Nonetheless he is a closer and close enough to his best to be considered if the pace melts down. 6th in this last year.

Orb 5s
The Kentucky Derby winner where the pace collapsed and the closers had Christmas in May. Since then has run respectfully in races dominated off the front. Much better run in the Travers close to pace even leading at the final call. This could set up better with an extra furlong. Can make an argument this is the first time he's going to get quick fractions to close into since the Derby (give or take The Belmont over 12 furlongs).

Last Gunfighter 16s
Progressive horse who won a grade 3 (won 3 G3s this year) last time. decent but unspectacular speed ratings a bit behind the best here. Closed strongly over a 1/16th less to win easily at Pimlico over his only bout beyond 9 furlongs. Won 6 of last 7 but loss was attempt at a Grade 2 was over 9 furlongs and Flat Out beat him 2.5 lengths. Not forlorn.

Vitoria Olimpica 33s
Brazilian turf winner off 1 winning dirt start in a 100K Stakes race and whilst he posted a good figure a lot more needed here. In deep with at least 5 of these serious contenders. Timeform give his breeding a good rating but price probably reflects the lottery ticket nature of selecting him. Not enough in his win for me to make him a wild card.

Alpha 9s
Made a goat of me last time as I dismissed a 2 time Grade 1 course and distance winner. Dominated then and no 25s against a better field with more guaranteed pace. Albeit as last time if Cross Traffic flops he could get the box seat as he did when Paynter flopped out of the stalls. Flat Out was only a head behind last time when arguably this one got the run of the race. Well beaten when he faced the pace Cross Traffic laid down in the Whitney but that was the notorious first start back from Dubai.

Flat Out 7/2
The holder and lover of the big 12 furlong track here. Narrowly beaten at Saratoga by Alpha in the slop when the other led at each call. Beat Cross Traffic a head at this course earlier in the season over a mile when the other endured torrid fractions. Best figures at Belmont.

Palace Malice 4s
Clearly improving and after toasting himself in the Kentucky Derby took the Belmont over the course and the grade 2 Jim Dandy. Considered the best horse when held up arguably too much when 4th in the Travers. Strong suggestion the extra 1/8 is in his favour here and likely to have more pace to run at in speedster Cross Traffic. Arguably reason for tactics last time was Pletcher's Verrazano was the pace and similar here with Cross Traffic also a Pletcher horse.

Cross Traffic 7/2
The pace. The improver. Coming here for only his 6th lifetime run after 5 this year in his 4 year old season. Lost a couple of grade 1s going hard early and held on last time doing the same. Also a chance Alpha or the Brazilian rag might challenge him. Is 1-1 with Flat Out albeit over a mile. First time at 10 furlongs.

Conclusion

No link between the 3yos and older horses makes this intriguing. To add to that Cross Traffic in only his 6th start is incredibly exciting and likely to get it easy up front. Also have the dynamic of the Fletcher pair again. An overbet on the PMU of classic winners Orb and or Palace Malice would make this a race to bet Cross Traffic. Flat Out will run his race at his home track track and is an exotic lock.

7/2 is a 22.2 % chance and I think the young improving Cross Traffic could wire them. I would love to bet this race after a furlong but let's hope John Velasquez can ration his effort and he can improve again.

Cross Traffic @ 3s or more.

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