Lemon Drop Kid drew post position four and was installed as the 4-5 favorite for the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Saturday at Belmont Park. Earlier on the card, Riboletta and Beautiful Pleasure will face off in the $750,000 Beldame.
Lemon Drop Kid and Behrens will renew their rivalry in the Gold Cup. Behrens has finished behind Lemon Drop Kid in four of the five races in which the two have met and in each of the last four meetings dating back to last year's Breeders Cup Classic (gr. I). Their first race together came in last year's renewal of the Jockey Cup Gold Cup, in which Behrens finished second and Lemon Drop Kid fifth.
Behrens has just one win on the season leading many to conclude that the 6-year-old son of Pleasant Colony has lost a step, but trainer H. James Bond disagrees. "I still think I have one of the top older horses in the country," Bond said. "I still believe in him, even if some people have written him off. He doesn't show me what everyone else is seeing, and believe me, he still wouldn't be in training if I didn't think he could do it."
Vision and Verse wheels back from an eighth-place finish as the favorite in Saturday night's Meadowlands Cup Handicap (gr. II). The Bill Mott-trained son of Storm Cat will be reunited with jockey Heberto Castillo Jr., who rode Vision and Verse to a second-place finish in Lemon Drop Kid's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
As for the Beldame, the leading West Coast older female will meet the reigning older female champion for the first time. Riboletta will attempt to win her fifth grade I of the year in the Beldame and her second at Belmont Park. Riboletta shipped east for September's Ruffian Handicap (gr. I), and drew off to a 7 1/2-length win.
"I was very pleased with her transition," said trainer Eduardo Inda. "She really liked the track. She shipped better this time than the time before."
Riboletta was installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite; Beautiful Pleasure is listed at 1-1.
Beautiful Pleasure drew the outside post for the race, which exercise rider and assistant trainer Donna Ward doesn't mind. "We'll let the race develop," Ward said. "If there's no pace, we make the pace. I like the outside post, it gives us a better chance to see how the race is setting up."
The field for the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup will consist of:
1--Albert the Great, Jorge Chavez, 8-1
2--Agol Lack, Chris McCarron, 20-1
3--Vision and Verse, Heberto Castillo Jr., 20-1
4--Lemon Drop Kid, Edgar Prado, 4-5
5--Behrens, Jerry Bailey, 2-1
6--Gander, John Velazquez, 15-1
7--Skimming, Kent Desormeaux, 6-1All horses to carry 126 pounds except for Albert the Great, who will carry 122 pounds.
The field for the 1 1/8-mile Beldame will consist of:
1--Riboletta, Chris McCarron, 4-5
2--West to East, Pat Day, 30-1
3--Pentatonic, Robbie Davis, 20-1
4--Native Brass, Aaron Gryder, 20-1
5--Back in Shape, Jerry Bailey, 30-1
6--Beautiful Pleasure, Jorge Chavez, 1-1All starters will carry 123 pounds.