The first three finishers in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) are headed for a rematch in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita Park, their trainers indicated on the morning of Sept. 29.
Trainer Bill Mott was feeling appreciative about the performance of 21-1 upsetter Ron the Greek, who clobbered a strong field by 6 3/4 lengths in the $1 million Gold Cup at Belmont Park the preceding afternoon, and said third-place finisher Flat Out was also headed in the right direction for the Nov. 2 Classic.
"There wouldn't have been many horses who would have beaten (Ron the Greek) yesterday," the Hall of Fame conditioner said. "He might have fired his best shot right there. I'm not (going to be) disappointed if he doesn't fire that one back."
Trainer Todd Pletcher said runner-up Palace Malice and seventh-place finisher Cross Traffic are being considered for the Classic as well, though a firm decision has not been made. He blamed a bad stumble at the start for Cross Traffic's poor showing in the Gold Cup.
"His chances were eliminated at the beginning, so you just have to draw a line through it and stick with the original plan, which right now would be the Breeders' Cup Classic," Pletcher said.
Pletcher said he wants to sort out the status for the Breeders' Cup of several other of his "Super Saturday" horses. That includes Princess of Sylmar, the Beldame Invitational (gr. I) winner who is not nominated, and Graydar , who won the Kelso (gr. II) impressively in a comeback race that immediately followed the Beldame. He earned an automatic berth into the $1 million Dirt Mile (gr. I) but is also a possibility for the Classic.
"With the way yesterday's races are positioned, five weeks out from the Breeders' Cup, it gives us time to sort out how everyone is doing and how everyone came out of the races," Pletcher said. "Hopefully we can sit back and let them tell us what the right decision is."
Ron the Greek, owned by Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, Jack T. Hammer, and Gary Barber, captured his third grade I victory in the Gold Cup. The son of Full Mandate registered his ninth lifetime win from 29 races and has now banked $2,704,691. He ran sixth in last year's Gold Cup and then fourth in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita, where he captured the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) earlier in the year.
Flat Out, winner of the 2011 and 2012 editions of the race, finished 8 1/2 lengths behind Ron the Greek as the 5-2 favorite for Preston Stables. It was just his second loss in seven starts at Belmont.
"It was good. Maybe not his 'A' race, but it was a very good race," Mott said of Flat Out's performance on Saturday. "Steady. That's the kind of race that you can go to the Breeders' Cup with and maybe have a little bit more confidence that you haven't overdone it."
Mott said he will talk to owner Benjamin Leon about whether two-time female Eclipse champion Royal Delta will compete against males in the Classic or females in the Distaff (gr. I). The trio will continue training in New York for the time being, Mott said.
Royal Delta was second, beaten two lengths by 3-year-old Princess of Sylmar, in her attempt to win the Beldame for a second straight year.
"She looks great," Mott said. "I'm not sure she ran her best race yesterday. She might have a better one in her than that. I'm pretty sure she does. I think her last two were better than that, so hopefully she'll come back next time and give us a good one."