Bernardini Breezes for Jockey Club Gold Cup

Darley Stable's Bernardini, who likely will be an overwhelming favorite in Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), breezed five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 at Belmont Park Tuesday.

Trainer Tom Albertrani said he didn't want to do too much with the son of A.P. Indy, who is coming off a sharp work last week.
"He's doing as well as he was going into the Travers," Albertrani said. "He's ready to go and has given us every indication that he is as ready as he was for the Travers.

"I think that with every race, this horse has matured mentally -- and physically, he looks so well. With every race, starting with the Preakness (gr. I), he has developed and gets better and better. He is just a delight to be around. He's very professional, and very easy to handle."

The Jockey Club Gold Cup was to have been a showdown between Bernardini and Invasor, but the Shadwell colt came down with a 103-degree fever on Thursday and will be forced to miss the race.

Bernardini will now have to contend mainly with Irish invader, Dylan Thomas, trained by Aidan O'Brien, as well as Andromeda's Hero. Nick Zito said he is considering changing plans and running Sun King, who originally was going to train up to the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I). Another possibility is Awesome Twist, runner-up in the Brooklyn Breeders' Cup (gr. II), who may run instead in the Meadowlands Cup (gr. II) Oct. 13.

"Naturally, by losing Invasor, who I think is the best older horse in the East and would have been the one to beat, it means we have one less horse to worry about," Albertrani said. "On the other hand, if Bernardini was to beat him – and I won't say what the outcome would have been – it would have boosted Bernardini's status. But you still have to respect everyone in the race. He still has to step up and face a couple of nice older horses.

"If Bernardini is on his game in the next two races, someone is going to have to be on his A-game to beat him. Bernardini showed in the Preakness that he doesn't have to be on the lead. He makes his own pace when there's no pace there. He's so versatile you can do anything to want with him."

Kiaran McLaughlin said Invasor has recovered from his fever and elevated white blood count and returned to the track today.

"He's doing very well now," he said. "We walked him Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. He jogged today and will gallop tomorrow. He seems very happy. We'll probably work him Sunday or Monday, and then train him up to the Breeders' Cup.

"It was terrible timing, because we had to walk him for a few days, and lost valuable time. If this had happened a couple of weeks ago, he would have made the Gold Cup. I wasn't looking forward to running against Bernardini, but we are disappointed. You never plan on missing a race for any reason. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise. Maybe he'll be eating his 5 o'clock meal while Bernardini is out there setting a track record, which could take something out of him. But we did want to run and see how he stacked up."