Nominations Released for G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup & G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic

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.


The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds

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