Trainer Al Stall Jr. said Whitney Handicap (gr. I) winner Blame would arrive at Belmont Park on Sept. 30 in advance of his expected next start in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational (gr. I).
“He’ll breeze twice more at Keeneland—this Sunday (Sept. 19) and on the 26th,” said Stall, who trains the 4-year-old son of Arch for Adele B. Dilschneider and Claiborne Farm. “The plane leaves Kentucky for New York on Thursday morning and he’ll go into John Terranova’s barn.”
Blame breezed six furlongs over the Keeneland Polytrack on Sept. 12, covering the distance in 1:11.80, handily.
“His last work was a really strong work,” Stall said. “He’s doing great; he’s ready. He’s a very happy horse; not picky about anything. We thought he was doing great (in Saratoga) this summer and we’re looking forward to heading back that way.”
Blame has won five consecutive races, including a pair of grade I contests in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 12 and the Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 7, in which he upset another top older male in training, Quality Road.
Among those Blame could face in the Gold Cup are the one-two finishers from the Travers Stakes (gr. I), Afleet Express and Fly Down, as well as Rail Trip, who missed by a half-length in the July 10 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I). Dry Martini, sixth on the grass in the Bowling Green (gr. IIT) at Belmont on Sept. 11, could also start.
The Gold Cup would be Afleet Express’ first start against older horses.
“He’s doing OK,” said Jimmy Jerkens, who trains the son of Afleet Alex for Gainesway Stable and Martin L. Cherry. “We don’t know yet if we are going to the Gold Cup. We’re undecided.
“It’d be tough, but it’s been done before,” said Jerkens. “We’d get a weight break, and 3-year-olds can fair well late in the year. He’s still a pretty fresh horse. He hasn’t been over-raced, and he didn’t race in the spring.”
Rail Trip exited a six furlong breeze at Aqueduct Sept. 16 in good order, according to trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.
Under jockey Cornelio Velasquez, the son of Jump Start worked in company with multiple graded stakes winner Arson Squad, covering six furlongs in 1:11.92.
“I thought the work was good, and he came out of it well,” said Dutrow. “We’re happy with the horse.”
Rail Trip, who was briefly sidelined with a foot problem this summer in Saratoga, will be making both his first start for Dutrow, and first start on dirt. Previously trained by Ron Ellis, the 5-year-old gelding is owned by Jay Em Ess Stable and won a pair of grade II stakes at Hollywood Park earlier this year.