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

Nominations for the following weekend’s stakes on October 6-7 – including four Breeders’ Cup qualifiers – close Saturday, September 22.

I thought he ran really well,” Pletcher said. “Showed a little more speed than I thought he would. Javier had to take a bit of a hold of him at one point, but when he took him out he finished up nicely. I think in these early 2-year-old races experience is huge. Having two starts compared to others with only one I think that helped today. I think it hurt him a little the last time when he stumbled, you could argue that it helped him today.”

“I think the Hopeful would be the next step with three starts under his belt,” said Pletcher after winning his record seventh Sanford. “If he’s tearing the barn down, we’ll see.”

Todd Pletcher, Trainer of the winner

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