Top 3-Year-Olds face a new challenge in the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park
By New York Hot List Staff
Code of Honor and Tacitus, the second and third place finishers in this year’s Kentucky Derby, will face older horses for the first time in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park on Saturday. The mile and a quarter test comes with a $750,000 purse and a “Win and You’re In” spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Since the year 2000, five 3-year-olds have won the Gold Cup and that group includes names like Tonalist, Summer Bird, and Curlin.
Code of Honor [ML 8-5] was installed as the morning line favorite based on his consecutive victories in the Travers (G1) and the Dwyer (G3) following the Kentucky Derby. Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey gave the son of Noble Mission plenty of time to develop following the rigors of the Derby Trail.
McGaughey has already won the JCGC three times with Vanlandingham (1985), Easy Goer (1989) and Miner’s Mark (1993).
“I think it’s a good spot for him. It’s a small field so hopefully the speed will show a little bit,” McGaughey said. “We’ll just let him run his race. He came out of the Travers fine and he’s coming back a month off of that effort but he seems to be doing really well. I think he’ll run his race, and we’ll see if he’s good enough. There are some nice horses in the field but if he goes over there and runs his race I think they’ll know he’s in there.”
Code of Honor is a serious contender for the divisional championship and a victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup would put Code of Honor even with Maximum Security in terms of Grade 1 victories this year.
Tacitus [ML 5-2], on the other hand, has a streak of three second-place finishes since the Run for the Roses. The son of Tapit won twice on the Derby Trail in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and the Wood Memorial.
His Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has also saddled three winners of the Gold Cup in Cigar (1995), Flat Out (2012) and Ron the Greek (2013).
“You know, I’d rather try to outrun four than 14,” said Mott. “He’s run well at Tampa. He’s run well at Aqueduct. So, I’m not sure if it will make a big difference one way or another, but he’s a big horse and the big, sweeping turns certainly aren’t going to hurt him.”
The Jockey Club Gold Cup, which drew a field of five, is slated as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race card with post time scheduled for 5:49 pm ET.
This week’s Special Saturday Pick 3 from the New York Hot List team cover races 9-11 and includes the Pilgrim (G3) and the JCGC. Last week the Special Pick 3 returned $131.50. The Pick 3 and the rest of the selections from the New York Hot List are available free of charge at this website.