JC Gold Cup Trainers Playing the Waiting Game
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 9/24/2003 3:30:14 PM
Last Updated: 9/25/2003 5:36:06 PM

Balto Star, may be added to Jockey Club Gold Cup field.
Photo: Equi-Photo
With Empire Maker withdrawn from Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), several trainers who had no plans to run are now reconsidering and will see how the field shapes up before deciding whether to enter on Thursday.

The trainers now thinking about running are Todd Pletcher, who was all set to enter Balto Star in the Turf Classic (gr. IT); Shug McGaughey, who may run Saarland; and Chris Clement, who had decided last weekend to pass the race with Dynever. And Kiaran McLaughlin could run either Northern Rock or State Shinto, both of whom have showed good early speed at times.

Nick Zito said Wednesday afternoon, that after talking to owner Arthur Hancock, he likely will run Quest, an impressive allowance winner at Saratoga.

Pletcher said he would consider entering Balto Star, wire-to-wire winner of the United Nations Handicap (gr. IT) on grass three races back, if the field remains around four or possibly five. Balto Star has excellent early speed, but Pletcher admitted that even if he were able to get away with "a :48 half," he still would find it hard to imagine him beating Mineshaft and Moon Ballad.

"With Empire Maker coming out, that leaves three for sure, but probably puts two or three other people in the same position I'm in," Pletcher said. "If we were guaranteed some earnings, it might make it worthwhile. I'm just going to wait until entries tomorrow. The horse is doing well and he's ready to run. It's just a matter of which race he's going to run in. One of the factors will be how firm the turf is. The bottom line is, either race we run in will be extremely difficult to win, but we've always managed him a gelding and put him where he could earn the most money."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the only four definites were Mineshaft, Mood Ballad, last year's winner Evening Attire, and Quest.

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