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The 2018
Jockey Club Gold Cup
has an international flair to it with three of the
top four contenders having a European background. Gronkowski, Mendelssohn, and
Thunder Snow all came from across the pond to compete in the American Triple
Crown and they now seek a “Win and You’re In” spot in this year’s Breeders’
Cup Classic
.



 



Diversify is
the favorite as he tries to win the $750,000 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup for
the second year in a row. The New York-bred son of Bellamy Road has an affinity
for Belmont Park where he has won four straight races dating back to the Saginaw
Stakes in 2017. Diversify comes into the race off a win in the Whitney (G1) at
Saratoga and is currently ranked #3 in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll behind
only Accelerate and Justify.



 



The Jockey Club
Gold Cup is carded as race 10 out of 11 with post time for the day of racing
set for 12:30 pm ET. Here is a look at the field of eight with morning line
odds by Horse Racing Nation.



 



Carlino [ML 30- 1 – Lemon Drop Kid
– Hennig/Lezcano – 13: 4-2-1 – $191,407] Carlino is most recently an allowance
winner at Saratoga who prior to that dabbled in stakes races in New York with
fourth place being his best finish. This Grade 1 is a big reach for the Mark
Hennig trainee. First try at a Grade 1.



 



Gronkowski [ML 5-2 – Lonhro – C.
Brown/Rosario – 8: 4-2-0 – $440,644] proved that he liked the Belmont Park
racing surface when he ran second in the Belmont Stakes (G1) in his first start
in America behind Triple Crown winner Justify. That was not the case when he
finished a distant eighth in the Travers.



 



“He
was doing great heading into the Travers, the only time he didn’t do well was
in the [race],” trainer Chad Brown said. “The track just got him that
day.”



 



In
the JCGC, Gronkowski will face older horses for the first time. There is plenty
of early pace expected in the race to set-up his closing move, but in Diversify,
Thunder Road, and Mendelssohn, it is by no means, cheap speed. He’s
back to the Belmont Park, a track he likes.



 



Mendelssohn
 [ML 7-2 – Scat Daddy – A. O’Brien/Moore
– 10: 4-2-1 – $2,227,137] Mendelssohn has not won a race since the UAE Derby
(G1) back in March on that notoriously speed favoring track at Meydan. He
blitzed that field in Dubai, but here in the U. S. he has not been able to get
loose and carry his speed to victory, not in the Dwyer (G3) against American sprinters
or in the Travers against Catholic Boy. He was much more successful in the ten
furlongs of the Travers and that is the distance of the Gold Cup. Now he
figures to be challenged by Diversify and Thunder Road in the early going and
that translates into a very tough task. Ultimately, I still have to wonder… Is he
better on turf than dirt?



 



Patch  [ML 15-1 – Union Rags – Pletcher/L.
Saez – 10: 2-2-2 – $518,520] When you get down to it, Patch has only two wins
in his career, his maiden victory at Gulfstream Park and his 2018 debut in an
allowance at Belmont Park. While racing against older horses in stakes company
this year the going has been tough and it sure doesn’t get any easier in this
edition of the JCGC. The popular colt always shows heart out on the track, but
he seems to be up against it in here. To his credit he does like Belmont Park. In a
very tough Grade 1.



 



Uno Mas Modelo
[ML
30-1
– Macho Uno – Quartarolo/Castellano – 27: 6-4-2 – $187,872] In a
high-profile race like the Jockey Club Gold Cup, it is no surprise to see an
entry from the Loooch Racing Stable. This son of Mach Uno has won three
straight including his last two in allowance races at Saratoga. Two victories
at the Spa is impressive, but this one was running for a $12,500 tag as
recently as December and has never been in a graded stakes race. Making
graded stakes debut.



 



Diversify  [ML 7-5 – Bellamy Road – Violette/I.
Ortiz – 15: 10-2-0 – $1,959,425] This New York-bred is very hard to beat in New
York. His record at Belmont is 8: 6-2-0, which of course includes last year’s
Jockey Club Gold Cup. If you exclude his two trips out of state, the Rick
Violette trainee has not lost a race since that victory. Diversify is two for
two racing at the ten-furlong distance and he is equally good on a dry or a wet
track. He is very likely to face challenges early from Mendelssohn and Thunder
Snow, but neither of them has survived the kind of fractions that Diversify can
post. Will be hard to beat at Belmont Park.



 



Discreet Lover
[ML
20- 1
– Repent – St. Lewis/Franco – 43: 6-7-7 – $941,560] The wheels
finally came off for Discreet Lover in the Woodward after his longshot show
finishes in the Whitney and the Suburban. It has now been more than five months
since he won the Excelsior (G3) at Aqueduct. Taking another try at the top
level.



 



Thunder Snow
[ML
5-1
– Helmet – bin Suroor/Soumillon – 19: 7-5-2 – $8,381,476] It is
very interesting that Thunder Snow received virtually the same running line for
his victory in the Dubai World Cup (G1) that Mendelssohn got on the same day in
the UAE Derby, “clear 600m out, easily” compared to “clear 600m out, ran on.”
No doubt that in the JCGC, the Saeed bin Suroor trainee is not going to get
clear from Diversify. Thunder Road is the leading money winner in the field,
but most of that came in the World Cup. His lifetime record is impressive, but this
will be the second toughest race of his life behind the Kentucky Derby. In his
return in the Juddmonte International (G1), he had excuses for his poor
performance, when he faced top European turf stars and he lost a couple of
shoes in the running. Can he come close to his World Cup
performance?



 



Summary: Pace seems to be a
key factor in this year’s Jockey Club Gold Cup and Diversify has the advantage.
His speed and his ability to carry that speed through a distance of ground is
going to make him very hard to beat.



 



Mendelssohn
and Thunder Snow both last won a race at Meydan on the same day when then ran
away from their fields in the UAE Derby and the Dubai World Cup in what were
remarkably similar performances – visually impressive and aided by the racing
surface on that particular evening.



 



I
don’t think that either one of them is as fast as Diversify, who has a
tremendous home-track advantage over the two Europeans. They are likely to try
and run with the New York-bred winner of this race last year. In the end,
Gronkowski is the horse that is likely to benefit from this pace scenario.



 



Ultimately,
Diversify will win his second JCGC in a row and Gronkowski will rally for
second passing the tiring Mendelssohn and Thunder Snow.



 



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