First of all, I must say it is good to be back posting again and it is also great to have started off a new phase of my career with Opening Day at Turf Paradise. The Luke Kruytbosch Stakes was an unbelievable race and very exciting to call. Hopefully, there will be many more thrilling races and race calls in the months to come.
Now, on to the task at hand. Belmont Park is running five Grade 1 races on Saturday afternoon as part of their Breeders' Cup Preview Day. The Grade 1 $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup only drew a field of seven, but what lacks in quantity is made up for in quality. The winner of the Belmont and Travers Stakes, Summer Bird, is present. Also in is Macho Again, who gave the great filly, Rachel Alexandra, all she could handle in the Woodward. We also cannot forget Quality Road, who won the Amsterdam at Saratoga, but dazzled at Gulfstream in the spring, winning the Fountain Of Youth and Florida Derby.
#1 Sette E Mezzo- This is an interesting spot to try and return to the dirt after seven straight races on the turf. He has only raced on the dirt once and finished 3rd, although it was his career debut at Gulfstream in March 2008. He then missed the money in a synthetic start at Keeneland one month later. I think he might be miscast here, especially since he is facing the toughest field he will have ever faced.
#2 Macho Again- What can you say about the horse that almost took down the superfilly? He got within a head of Rachel and while you can say Borel had his measure all the way, this colt is ALWAYS there. His last three Grade 1s include a win and two seconds. You almost have to include him because there is no good reason to leave him out at this point. Robby Albarado will ride.
#3 Summer Bird- I am finally sold on this guy. When I handicap his races, he almost never seems on paper to stand a chance. You know what, they don't run the races on paper! He won the "Test Of Champions", the Belmont Stakes. He was a distant second to Rachel in the Haskell in the slop at Monmouth. He then won the Travers in the slop at the Spa. Three of the toughest three-year-old races going and he never batted an eye in any of them.
#4 Tizway- I just think this distance is too far for him. If you look at his past performances, he has just one win in a race over one mile and that was over the synthetic at Woodbine. In fact, he has only one other in-the-money result over one mile. Combine that with the fact that he has been off for nearly two months (since running 4th in the Grade 1 Whitney), and I think this colt is a throw-out.
#5 Asiatic Boy- The globetrotter is adding blinkers for this effort. He has not won since his returning from his poor performance at Dubai in the World Cup. In fact, he has lost to two of his competitors here in the three races since his return. Macho Again beat him in the Foster at Churchill and Dry Martini topped him in the Suburban at Belmont. He DOES sport a bullet workout on September 26 at Belmont, covering 4F in 47.2 seconds. Might be the mystery horse of this field.
#6 Dry Martini- Did win the Suburban two back, but was then thrashed in the Grade 1 Whitney last time out. He does have two wins over the oval at Belmont Park, but he really needs some speed to close into and he might not be getting it in this short field. He has the capacity to get the distance, but I think he might be more suited to the minor placings in this race.
#7 Quality Road- His Travers Stakes was extremely disappointing for almost everyone (I will except the connections of Summer Bird). It might have been too ambitious to have him go 1 1/4 mile for the first time with only a 6 1/2 furlong race following a prolonged layoff. That race was in the slop, which he had never run in before, but the Travers leaves more questions that answers at this late date. However, he might be good enough to elevate himself over any doubts we might have.
In the final analysis, I am going to go with Summer Bird as a narrow winner in the Gold Cup over Macho Again with Quality Road third and Dry Martini fourth. How are we going to bet the Jockey Club Gold Cup? Well,
$2 EX BOX 2-3-7 and $2 TRI BOX 2-3-7
Remember, that They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers made in conjunction with these selections, they are merely suggestions. Tune in again on Monday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!