Jockey Club Gold CupElmont, NY Belmont Park
They instead must settle for his third victory in as many starts at this massive oval after he added a 1 ¾-length triumph in the $1-million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday to previous successes here in the Belmont and Peter Pan Stakes.
It was Tonalist’s fourth victory in seven starts this season to go with a pair of runner-up finishes and one third-place showing, demonstrating the consistency that means everything to winning trainer Christophe Clement.
“That’s why he’s such a good horse. He really tries,” Clement said. “This is great. Let’s enjoy it.”
The celebration was somewhat muted, though, in that Rajiv Maragh, who rode Wicked Strong, the second choice in the wagering after Tonalist, was unseated during the backstretch run. He was taken to a nearby hospital for X-rays on his right arm.
Much of racing is about adjustments. Clement, one of the most respected trainers in the nation, delighted in his decision to remove blinkers from Tonalist after the colt was a bit too keen for his liking in coming in second in the Jim Dandy Stakes and third in the Travers Stakes.
“I probably should have removed the blinkers before the Travers,” Clement said. “He, obviously, was a bit too aggressive in the Travers. Even so, he didn’t quit. I love the way that, even when he got beat in the Travers, he went on to the wire.”
Without the blinkers, Tonalist and jockey Joel Rosario found themselves at the back of the pack.
“I was probably a little far back, but I wasn’t worried about it,” Rosario said. “I didn’t want to make him do something he didn’t want to do. I could see turning for home they were coming back to me and he found a way through.”
Rosario added: “I’m happy we got the money. He’s a one-paced horse, and when he starts going, he goes forever.”
Trainer Chad Brown also expects to be bound for the Classic with ever-improving Zivo. “I feel like we have one of the better older horses going a mile and a quarter on dirt in the country,” Brown said.
- Race Number: 10
- Date of Race: September 27, 2014
- Current Purse: $1,000,000
- Location: Elmont, NY
- Track: Belmont Park
- Distance: 1 1/4 miles
- Surface: Dirt
- Horse Age: 3-year-olds and older
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- Fastest Time (since 1976): 1:58.89 (Skip Away, 1997)
- Greatest Winning Margin (since 1976): 15 lengths
- Past Winners: