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Aaron previews the 2022 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Saratoga, then gives his top picks and longshots in this “Win & You’re In” for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). After ranking him highly for several weeks, Aaron finally gets to see Americanrevolution back on the track, but can the Todd Pletcher trainee win after the long layoff? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
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The track press release:
A cumulative baker’s dozen graded stakes victories will comprise Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup field, where Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will unleash a competitive quartet for the prestigious 10-furlong test for 3-year-olds and upward at Saratoga Race Course.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup, offering a “Win and You’re In” spot in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Keeneland, is slated for Race 11 [5:45 p.m. Eastern] and will be broadcast live on NBC as part of a special 90-minute broadcast from 4:30 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. that will include the Grade 2, $600,000 Flower Bowl [Race 10] which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf . A stacked card includes the Grade 3, $200,000 Saranac in Race 4.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup, which celebrates its 104th renewal, has been won by all-time greats Man o’ War , Gallant Fox , War Admiral , Whirlaway , Citation , Hill Prince , Nashua [1955-56], Kelso [1960-64] Buckpasser , Damascus , Shuvee [1970-71] Forego , Affirmed , John Henry , Easy Goer , Cigar , Skip Away [1996-97] and Curlin [2007-08].
Leading the Pletcher tetrad is Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable and Phipps Stable’s Dynamic One, who captured the Grade 2 Suburban on July 9 at Belmont Park over returning rivals First Captain and Untreated, who also is trained by Pletcher. The 4-year-old chestnut son of Union Rags, who finished 18th in last year’s Kentucky Derby, earned his first career stakes victory in the Curlin last July at the Spa, displaying a late kick to defeat Miles D and First Captain by 1 3/4 lengths ahead of a distant seventh in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers.
Dynamic One returned to action with vigor this season when a respective second and third to Scalding in the Grade 3 Challenger in March at Tampa Bay Downs and the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland. From there, he added a pair of stakes wins to his ledger in the nine-furlong Blame on June 4 at Churchill Downs before his Suburban victory.
“He’s made steady progress throughout this year. I think each race has been better than the previous one, culminating with a win in the Suburban,” Pletcher said. “We’ve been pointing for the Jockey Club since then and has had a good schedule. The horse has trained well and we’re happy with the way he’s coming into the race.”
Pletcher noted Dynamic One’s improved maturity from ages 3-to-4.
“Physically, I think he’s always been a strong and good-looking horse, but I think he’s filled out even more,” Pletcher said. “More than anything, he’s just become a little more professional in his races and he’s figured it out. I would say he’s made quite a bit of mental progress.”
A $725,000 purchase from the Claiborne Farm consignment at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Dynamic One hails from rich maternal bloodlines of 1988 Champion Older Filly and undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign, who produced 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag. His dam, Beat the Drums, is out of Storm Flag Flying – the 2002 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly and daughter of My Flag.
Dynamic One boasts earnings of $699,950 and a record of 12-4-3-1. Breaking from post 8, Irad Ortiz, Jr. will return aboard Dynamic One.
WinStar Farm and CHC Inc.’s reigning New York-bred Horse of the Year Americanrevolution returns to his native state for the first time since capturing the Grade 1 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets on December 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The 4-year-old Constitution chestnut captured three stakes against fellow New York-breds during last year’s campaign, including an 11 3/4-length conquest against elders in the Empire Classic at Belmont Park, where he earned a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure. Americanrevolution made both of his starts this year at Churchill Downs, finishing fourth in the Blame in June off a six-month layoff and second in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster on July 2.
Initially scheduled to enter the Commentator on May 30 at Belmont Park, Pletcher was forced to regroup when the race did not fill.
“We kind of got thrown off track earlier in the year when the race we were pointing for [Commentator] didn’t go and he had to run a mile and an eighth off the extended layoff,” Pletcher said. “He got a little tired from that but then he took a step forward and ran a solid race in the Stephen Foster. He’s been training strongly here, and he always has been a good work horse.”
Although he is Pletcher’s lone contender without 10-furlong experience, Pletcher has faith that Americanrevolution can carry a distance of ground.
“He’s proven versatile enough at a mile and an eighth and a mile, but he gives you the impression that he’s still finding more at the end of a mile and an eighth. Hopefully, that means he can carry it on to a mile and a quarter,” Pletcher said.
Two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Joel Rosario, who has won 15 stakes this meet, will pick up the mount from post 5.
After a successful debut for Pletcher last out, Keepmeinmind will seek his first graded stakes victory since a maiden-breaking performance in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in November 2020 at Churchill Downs. Previously trained by Robertino Diodoro, the son of Laoban competed in nothing but graded stakes events last year with his best finishes taking place when third in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and a game second to dual champion Essential Quality in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy at the Spa. He was beaten a half-length in both races.
Keepmeinmind fired off an 11-month layoff with a last out victory in a first-level allowance on July 22 at Saratoga.
“He had trained strongly leading into that,” Pletcher said. “He’s a horse that’s at his best going a mile and a quarter. We didn’t want to sprint him coming back. We felt like we had done enough with him. But still, to his credit, to be able to win off a long layoff like that shows the quality that he has.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will have the call from post 7.
Rounding out the Pletcher contingent is Team Valor International’s Untreated. While he is the only Jockey Club Gold Cup contender without a graded stakes win, the son of Nyquist came close in his last three starts, when a pacesetting third in the Suburban and finishing three-quarters of a length behind Dynamic One. He showed early speed when third in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special on May 20 and was beaten 1 1/4 lengths.
“He fought hard in the Suburban and same thing with the Pimlico Special,” Pletcher said. “He’s been knocking on the door, so a slight improvement could be the key.”
Untreated was a two-time allowance winner over the winter at Aqueduct, where he utilized off-the-pace tactics.
“He’s versatile enough tactic wise to where if it’s a slow pace he can go up front and if they go quicker, he can settle off the pace a little bit. We’ll see how it shapes up,” Pletcher said.
Jose Ortiz will pilot Untreated from post 3.
Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey will seek his fifth Jockey Club Gold Cup victory with dual graded stakes winner First Captain.
Second in the Suburban beaten a nose, the 4-year-old son of 2007-08 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner and Hall of Famer Curlin captured the Grade 3 Pimlico Special two starts back going 1 3/16 miles under returning rider Luis Saez. First Captain won his first three career starts, including a victory in the Grade 3 Dwyer last June going a one turn mile at Belmont Park before suffering his first defeat in his sire’s namesake race last July at the Spa.
“I think [the distance experience] will help him, but he was coming off a mile and three-sixteenth race as well. He’s trained very well up here,” McGaughey said. “It seems like he’s a happy horse. We’ve learned that what he wants to do is run a distance of ground. This will be the third time Luis Saez has rode him and I think that will help, too.”
McGaughey, whose previous Jockey Club Gold Cup winners are Vanlandingham , Easy Goer , Miner’s Mark  and Code of Honor , said a Grade 1 victory would be important for First Captain’s resume.
“It’s a very good race,” McGaughey said. “In his continued career, it would be a big thing to win it. We’re looking forward to running him and I think he has a big chance.”
First Captain will emerge from post 6.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will saddle four-time graded stakes winner Olympiad, who will strive to make amends following a distant fourth in the Grade 1 Whitney on August 6 at Saratoga.
By Speightstown, who sired 2010 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Haynesfield, Olympiad brags the most graded stakes victories in the field as well as field-best earnings of $1,472,560 through an 11-7-1-1 record. Olympiad won five straight races entering the Whitney, four at graded stakes level. He captured the Grade 2 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs by 2 1/4 lengths over Americanrevolution, producing a field-best and career-best 111 Beyer Speed Figure, one start following a triumph over 2020 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Happy Saver in the Grade 2 Alysheba on May 6 at the Louisville oval.
A 7 1/4-length winner of his 2022 debut going two turns at Gulfstream Park, Olympiad followed with triumphs in Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots’ Grade 3 Mineshaft on February 15 and the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic on March 26. Olympiad is owned by Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stable and LNJ Foxwoods.
Junior Alvarado will retain the mount from post 2.
Three-time graded stakes winner Tax will seek his first win at Saratoga since capturing the 2019 Grade 2 Jim Dandy for trainer Danny Gargan. The 6-year-old gelded son of Arch made his first start in a year and a half with a wire-to-wire victory in the last out Battery Park on July 9 at Delaware Park.
Owned by Gargan in partnership with R.A. Hill Stable, Tax also won the Grade 3 Withers in February 2019 at Aqueduct as well as the Grade 3 Harlan’s Holiday in December 2020 at Gulfstream Park.
Kendrick Carmouche will ride Tax from post 1.
Completing the field is The Estate of James J. Coleman, Jr.’s Chess Chief for trainer Dallas Stewart, who finished a last-out third in the Alydar on August 4 at Saratoga. The Virginia-bred son of Into Mischief has won all five of his lifetime victories at Fair Grounds, including the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic in March 2021.
Manny Franco, who guided Discreet Lover to an upset victory in the 2018 Jockey Club Gold Cup, then contested at Belmont Park, will attempt another upset in the race when guiding Chess Chief from post 4.
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