Tacitus Out to Make Amends at Belmont
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire
By Emily Shields for TVG
The prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) will be held Saturday, October 10 at Belmont Park, slated as the ninth of an 11-race card. A field of just five have gathered for the 1 ¼-mile contest, which has been won by the likes of Curlin, Bernardini, Skip Away, Cigar, and Easy Goer in the last three decades.
Third in the race last year during a remarkable streak of hitting the board in Grade 1 races is Tacitus, the four-year-old son of Tapit and the Grade 1 mare Close Hatches. Tacitus was beaten four lengths by Vino Rosso and Code of Honor last year, but ran one of the best races of his life that day. He skipped the Breeders’ Cup and returned in the Saudi Cup in February, finishing fifth, before finally getting a breakthrough win in the Grade 2 Suburban here over this 1 ¼ mile trip by nearly nine lengths. Tacitus, who last year finished second or third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, and Travers, is trained by Bill Mott, and will once again have Jose Ortiz in the irons. That jockey piloted him to victory in both the Wood Memorial (G2) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2) last year.
On his outside is Mystic Guide. The three-year-old son of Ghostzapper and the Grade 1 winner Music Note has run just five times, with two wins and never finishing worse than third. Michael Stidham trains the chestnut colt, who will have John Velazquez on board. He is coming off a win in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy, where he defeated subsequent Preakness Stakes (G1) third place finisher Jesus’ Team.
Another sophomore is unbeaten Happy Saver, who drew the rail. The son of Super Saver goes for trainer Todd Pletcher, and has steadily moved up in class. Following a maiden win sprinting here in June, he added a nine-furlong allowance at Saratoga and then the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park in September, scoring as a heavy favorite. He picks up Irad Ortiz, Jr. again and tackles older horses in a big class jump.
Prioritize is a gelded son of Tizway running for trainer James Bond. Luis Saez will ride the five-year-old, who has found new life on the main track after running the first part of his career on the grass. Switched to dirt in December, he has run five times with two wins, two seconds, and a third in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga last out. Name Changer rounds out the field. The seven-year-old son of Uncle Mo is an eight-time winner of over half a million, and will be ridden by Manny Franco. He is lightly raced of late, making just his fifth start since his last win, which came at Aqueduct in December, 2018.
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