Discreet Lover returns $93 in Jockey Club Gold Cup stunner
Courtesy of David Grening of DRF.com
ELMONT, N.Y. – Discreet Lover never misses a dance. On Saturday, he was king of the ball.
Taking advantage of a wicked early pace, Discreet Lover, sent off at 45-1, came with a sustained rally under Manny Franco and wore down Thunder Snow in the shadow of the wire to win the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup by a neck at Belmont Park.
Thunder Snow, the Dubai World Cup winner, finished 1 3/4 lengths in front of Mendelssohn. It was 2 1/2 lengths back to Carlino in fourth. He was followed by Diversify, the 3-5 favorite who wilted after running a mile in 1:33.89, in fifth. Gronkowski, Uno Mas Modelo, and Patch completed the order of finish.
The win was the first Grade 1 for Uriah St. Lewis, 60, the trainer and owner of Discreet Lover who has been training horses for 30 years.
“It’s great especially the Jockey Club Gold Cup, it’s one of the most prestigious races in the world and he just did it,” said St. Lewis, who was equally happy that he had bet $100 to win, place, and show on his horse, who returned $93, $25.40, and $10.20.
Discreet Lover, a $10,000 purchase, was making his 15th start in a graded stakes, his sixth in a Grade 1. He did run third to Diversify in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga, but finished 12th in the Woodward in his most recent start.
“They’re my own horses, I run wherever I feel like,” St. Lewis said. “People say ‘You’re crazy.’ Yeah, I’m crazy, but I’m crazy smart making money.”
Discreet Lover, who earlier this year won the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct, now has a record of 7-7-7 from 44 starts with earnings of $1,354,060.
St. Lewis said one of the reasons his horse finished poorly in the Woodward was because he was too close to the pace.
“There were 14 horses, I told Manny to use him a little bit,” St. Lewis said. “He’s the type of horse who wants to take back and make one run.”
That wasn’t hard to do in the Gold Cup.
Mendelssohn was sent away from post 3 by Ryan Moore. But Irad Ortiz Jr. wanted the lead on Diversify and he used him through a quarter in 22.72 seconds to open up a 1 1/2-length lead.
Ortiz kept Diversify rolling through a half-mile in 45.64 seconds and six furlongs in 1:09.13 with Mendelssohn two lengths back.
“I had to use a lot to make the lead,” Ortiz said. “We just went a little fast.”
Franco, meanwhile, had Discreet Lover about 15 lengths off the pace in fifth.
Diversify ran a mile in 1:33.89 and began to feel the effects of that turning for home. Mendelssohn and Thunder Snow, who was third early, were gaining on Diversify with Mendelssohn taking over from him at the quarter pole.
Thunder Snow, under Christophe Soumillon, took over from Mendelssohn inside the eighth pole and looked like the winner, but Discreet Lover kept on coming and got up late.
Discreet Lover, a 5-year-old son of Repent, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59.99.
“I knew they were going fast in front of me, I was just trying to keep my horse relaxed,” Franco said. “When I make my move he was there for me like always, and today was our day.”
The Gold Cup is a Win and You’re In race for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3.
St. Lewis stopped just short of committing to the race on Saturday, saying he wanted to evaluate the horse first in a few days.
“I would [go] if he’s good,” St. Lewis said. “He comes before any Breeders’ Cup.”
Thunder Snow is definitely going to the Classic. Trainer Saeed bin Suroor said he was pleased with his colt’s performance, bouncing back from a last-place finish in the Grade 1 York International last month. Thunder Snow is expected to ship to Churchill Downs mid-week.
“He ran a big race, I’m happy with the way he finished his race, and he will improve from this race,” Suroor said. “He will be ready for the Breeders’ Cup.”
Mendelssohn will also likely go to the Classic. He is expected to ship back to Ireland on Sunday but then return to the U.S. the week of the Breeders’ Cup.
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