JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP STAKES | PURSE: $750,000 | GRADE 1 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | 1 1/4 MILES
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Trainer Scooter Dickey believes Flat Out has already done enough to show he belongs in the Breeders' Cup Classic field. So while he would like his 5-year-old horse to improve upon runner-up finishes in both the Whitney Handicap and Woodward Stakes at Saratoga when he runs in Saturday's $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park, a victory is not paramount.
"He doesn't have to win; he showed me already he can compete with those kind of horses,'' Dickey said Wednesday from his base at Monmouth Park. "I don't know who's going to be [in the Classic] other than the ones we've been running against in this country. [Churchill's] his home track, he runs good on it. As long as he doesn't run a terrible race, that would be the only thing."
Given his recent form, a terrible race is not in the offing for Flat Out, who was installed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the Gold Cup by New York Racing Association linemaker Eric Donovan ahead of Jim Dandy and Travers winner Stay Thirsty (8-5), the lone 3-year-old in the field of seven. Flat Out will be coupled in the wagering with Birdrun as both are owned by Preston Stables.
Flat Out's career-best race came at Belmont in July when he rallied powerfully to take the Grade 2 Suburban by 6 1/2 lengths. That was at 1 1/8 miles. The Gold Cup will be his first try at 1 1/4 miles.
"I don't think the mile and a quarter is going to bother him any,'' Dickey said. "We're anxious to come over there.''
Not too anxious, though. In three previous visits to New York tracks, Dickey has shipped the horse in time get some training done over the surface. But he's not doing that this time because he has heard there have been some sick horses on the backstretch at Belmont. So he will ship to New York from Monmouth Park the morning of the race.
"It's only an hour, so it won't make any difference,'' Dickey said. "He's been over the track so we just decided to come over that morning."
Alex Solis will ride Flat Out from post 6.
Stay Thirsty will try to become the fourth 3-year-old in the last six years to win the Gold Cup. The last three to do it -- Summer Bird (2009), Curlin (2007), and Bernardini (2006) -- were all voted divisional championships. Stay Thirsty will break from post 3 under Javier Castellano.
A.U. Miner, who beat Birdrun in the Greenwood Cup at Parx in July, has shipped in for the Gold Cup for trainer Clark Hanna. He will break from post 5 under Calvin Borel.
Ice Box, the 2010 Florida Derby winner drew the rail while Rodman, the Met Mile runner-up who could be the main speed, breaks from post 2.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup is one of six graded stakes on Saturday's 11-race program that begins at 12:30. All six graded stakes are "Win and You're In" races, meaning the winners get their entry fee paid to their respective Breeders' Cup races.
The Gold Cup is the final leg of an all-stakes pick-four that has a guaranteed pool of $500,000. The first three legs of the wager are the Vosburgh, Kelso, and Beldame.
The Kelso, Beldame, and Jockey Club will be shown live on ESPN Classic during a three-hour broadcast that begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. Both TVG and HRTV will show the races as well, with HRTV having on-site coverage provided by Carolyn Conley and Richard Migliore.