A pair of 'TDN Rising Star' sophomores take on their elders in a five-horse renewal of the GI Jockey Club Gold Cup S. Saturday at Belmont, which is a “Win and You're In” event for the GI Breeders' Cup Classic.
Leading the sophomore duo is unbeaten Happy Saver (Super Saver). A dominant debut winner going seven panels at Belmont June 20, the Todd Pletcher pupil dominated a nine-furlong allowance next out at Saratoga July 26. The Wertheimer and Frere homebred made it three-for-three in Laurel's Federico Tesio S. Sept. 7.
“He just had some baby setbacks,” Pletcher said. “We almost had him ready to run here last fall, but we had to give him a break. It just took him a little while to get ready, but he's certainly made up a lot of ground in a short period of time.”
A second out graduate at Fair Grounds Mar. 21, fellow 3-year-old Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper) checked in second in a June 4 allowance at Belmont and was third next out in Saratoga's GIII Peter Pan S. July 16. The Godolphin homebred rallied to victory last time at the Spa in the GII Jim Dandy S. Sept. 5.
“We were very, very pleased with his Jim Dandy run,” said Godolphin's Jimmy Bell. “He stepped up and found his way to the top level. A little of it was the blinkers and getting him more involved in the race early not giving him too much to do at the end. We're looking forward to the distance of the Jockey Club Gold Cup.”
Topping the contingent of older horses is MGSW Tacitus (Tapit), who has been knocking at the door of a coveted Grade I victory throughout his career. Winner of the GII Tampa Bay Derby and GII Wood Memorial S. last spring, the Juddmonte homebred was third in both the GI Travers S. and last terms Jockey Club. Fifth in the Saudi Cup in February, the gray was fourth in the GII Oaklawn S. May 2 and dominated by 8 3/4 lengths in the GII Suburban S. at Belmont July 4. He enters off a runner-up effort behind Global Campaign (Curlin) in the GI Woodward H. last time Sept. 5.
“Looking back, I don't think we did anything wrong,” said Bill Mott. “The horse that beat him [in the Woodward] just ran a very good race. The only thing we could have tried differently, and I don't know that it would have changed the outcome was maybe go to that horse [Global Campaign] right away from the gate. I don't know that it would have changed anything. You sure weren't going to take him back more, the only thing would have been going on the attack early.”
Rounding out the field are GIII Salvator Mile S. fourth-place finisher Name Changer (Uncle Mo) and Woodward third Prioritize (Tizway).