The Jockey Club Gold Cup has always been one of my favorite races, but it's hard to get too excited about this year's rendition. The favorite, Diversify, looks awfully tough on paper so the prospects of a big score on the race are slim.
Lets look at the field.
At first glance he looks impossibly overmatched in here, but his race at Saratoga the day before the Travers was pretty nice. He had to come from dead last in that one and the pace was similar to that of the Travers the next day. No one closed at all in the Travers except Catholic Boy, so I don't blame them for taking a shot in here. He can run all day, so the distance won't be a problem, most of the field will probably get tired chasing Diversify on the front, and he has a good post. It's hard to see him winning, but he could definitely hit the board at a price. He will be on most of my tickets.
I loved him in the Travers, but he never ran a lick. He should get the perfect inside stalking trip while everyone is chasing Diversify, but it's hard to get excited about him. He'll be over bet because of Brown and he'll have to run down Diversify who should be loose on the lead. He loves the distance, so that's no problem, but other than that freak out in the Belmont, what's he done? He's been training well and today is probably now or never, but I can't see it.
Had everything his own way in the Travers and still melted when Catholic Boy showed up. He set a soft pace on a track favoring speed and couldn't hold on. How's he going to chase Diversify all the way around and still hold off the closers? I must admit I didn't like him in the Travers and he was part of a nice exacta, but I don't like him here either. His race in the UAE Derby is probably the most over hyped, misunderstood race of the year. I'm prepared to eat crow, but he will not be on my tickets!
He has a catchy name and a nice back story, but he's won two races in his life and I don't think this is going to be number three. There are some scenarios where I can envision him hitting the board, but it's almost impossible to see him winning this. I'll pass on Patch.
5. Uno Mas Modelo
He is a very fast sprinter as his last three races will attest, but how's he going to go a mile and a quarter with Diversify? He could play a role in the race if he hooks Diversify early and softens him a bit, but there is nothing to suggest that he can win a Grade 1 at a mile and a quarter. He will be purely a pace factor. No thanks.
See picture above as the reigning champ returns to the scene of the crime. The rest of the field has one hope and that is for Uno Mas Modelo to make Diversify run harder than he wants to early. It should be noted that he runs pretty fast on cruise control without being pushed, so beating him will be a tall order for this field. It is very easy, indeed, to see him front wiring this field the same way he front wired better horses last year. Impossible to leave off your tickets and the most likely winner.
7. Discreet Lover
I consistently underestimate this horse. He's very good at showing up late after Diversify runs the contenders off their pins. He has to be thrown in underneath because he always seems to pass the tired horses at the end.
8. Thunder Snow
The wild card! I don't know what to make of his last at York where he ran last on the grass, but his best could get a major piece in here. He should get a nice outside stalking trip and might even have a chance to win if Diversify has to go too fast early. I think it's more likely that he will be the one moving at Diversify in the lane and will probably finish second.
There you have it. Not the most exciting Jockey Club on paper and it's hard to imagine anyone other than the six or the eight winning. The key to the race for me will be the one horse. If I can get Carlino into the trifecta (second is what I'm hoping for), then I will be a happy camper. I'm boxing 1-6-8!
Good luck to all who are playing!