From the Media Team at NYRA:
New York-bred star Diversify tops a competitive group of 14 nominees released on Sunday as he looks to defend his title in the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday, September 29.
In all, 91 horses were nominated to five graded stakes on September Super Saturday, the first of two must-see weekends of the Fall Championship Meet: 13 for the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic; 15 for the Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh; and 31 for the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim.
The Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo, held the following day, has attracted 18 nominations. Additionally, 12 have been invited to the $200,000 Temperence Hill Invitational, also on Sunday.
Lauren Evans and Ralph M. Evans’ Diversify, a 5-year-old New York-bred gelding by Bellamy Road, capped a three-race win streak in 2017 with a gate-to-wire victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. This year, the Rick Violette, Jr. trainee comes into his title defense off a pair of eye-catching victories in the Grade 2 Suburban and the Grade 1 Whitney.
The field for this year’s 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup – a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 3 at Churchill Downs – could also include a return North American engagement for Grade 1 Travers runner-up Mendelssohn, who is targeting the Classic with champion European trainer Aidan O’Brien.
Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski, the ever-popular one-eyed Patch, dual-surface Grade 1 winner Yoshida, and Alydar winner Realm are also among the top nominees for the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Grade 1 Arlington Million winner Robert Bruce and Grade 1 Manhattan hero Spring Quality lead nominations for the Turf Classic at 1 ½ miles on the Widener turf and carrying an all-fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf. Channel Maker, second in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer last time out, and the 3-year-old Carrick, a game winner of the Grade 1 Secretariat on August 11, are also nominated.
The six-furlong Vosburgh will round out the Super Saturday’s prelude to the Breeders’ Cup with a berth in the Sprint up for grabs. Imperial Hint, winner of the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap last time out at Saratoga and the Grade 2 True North at Belmont in June, as well as impressive Tale of the Cat winner Always Sunshine, Grade 2 Belmont Sprint Championship victor Limousine Liberal are among the nominees.
Full nominations are available at www.nyra.com/belmont/horsemen.
Nominations for the following weekend’s stakes on October 6-7 – including four Breeders’ Cup qualifiers – close Saturday, September 22.