Diversify Goes Wire to Wire to Win Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park and Gains Final Automatic Berth in Breeders' Cup Classic
ELMONT, N.Y. (October 7, 2017) - Ralph and Lauren Evans’s 4-year-old gelding Diversify went wire to wire under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. to win Saturday’s 1 ¼-mile, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park by one length over favored Keen Ice and gained the final automatic berth into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) through the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series.
The Breeders' Cup Challenge is an international series of stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will be held for the first time at the Del Mar racetrack near San Diego, California, on November 3-4.
Diversify, a New York bred son of Bellamy Road, trained by Rick Violette, joins Stephen Foster Handicap (G1) and Whitney (G1) winner Gun Runner, TVG Pacific Classic winner Collected and the Awesome Again Stakes (G1) Mubtaahij (IRE), as the four automatic qualifiers under consideration for the Classic.
"We did pick up the 'Win and You're In' for the Classic today, but we're going to enjoy today's race and give it a couple of days. I talk it over with Lauren Evans and Ralph Evans and we'll come up with a decision next week."
In earning his first career Grade 1 triumph, Diversify won his seventh race in 10 lifetime starts. He came into today’s Gold Cup off consecutive wins in two restricted New York-bred races in July with the 1 1/16 mile Saginaw Stakes and then the 1 1/8 mile Evan Shipman Stakes in Saratoga on August 21, which he won also in gate-to-wire fashion.
In today’s 99th running of the Gold Cup, Diversify stayed true to his front-running style, taking the field of seven on an uncontested lead through an opening quarter-mile in 24.17 seconds and a half-mile in 47.74 with Grade 3 Smarty Jones winner Pavel, making his fourth career start, and Rally Cry stalking from two lengths behind. Highland Sky and 2016 Belmont Stakes winner Destin comprised the middle of the pack, three lengths ahead of early trailers Keen Ice and Good Samaritan.
Diversify still held the advantage through six furlongs in 1:11.42 as Keen Ice and Good Samaritan began to move from the back of the pack. Keen Ice advanced in the final turn while Pavel made an outside bid turning for home, but neither could catch Diversify, who finished a length ahead of Keen Ice. Pavel was another three-quarters of a length behind in third. It was another 5 ¾ lengths back to Good Samaritan in fourth. Destin, Rally Cry and Highland Sky rounded out the order of finish.
"We couldn't have dreamed of a better scenario,” added Violette. “The first quarter, going in twenty-four [seconds] was ideal. He's done nothing but get better from the early summer until now. He's always been a nice horse, but he's certainly jumped into the major leagues here today. He [Keen Ice] might've moved a little earlier than he wanted to because we were always loose on the lead. The pace certainly made the race for us. My only instructions to Irad was to ride him like he rode him in Saratoga.
Diversify, bred by Fred W. Hertrich III and John Fielding, completed the 1 ¼ miles in 2:00.96 over a fast track.
About Breeders’ Cup
The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships. The Breeders’ Cup also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The 2017 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 13 Grade I races with purses and awards totaling more than $28 million, will be held November 3-4 at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Del Mar, Calif., and will be televised live by the NBC Sports Group. The Breeders’ Cup culminates with the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic, which was rated No. 1 in the world in the final 2016 Longines World’s Best Horse Race rankings. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the Breeders’ Cup Web site, www.breederscup.com. You can also follow the Breeders’ Cup on social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
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