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British actress Olivia Williams with sabre fish.
NEW YORK (AP) — Flat Out made his first win of the year a big one, edging Stay Thirsty in the final strides to take the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Flat Out won the Gold Cup last year, but was 0 for 6 until overtaking Stay Thirsty two jumps from the finish to give trainer Bill Mott his second Grade 1 victory on a day that featured six graded stakes races.
Earlier, Mott’s 4-5 favorite Royal Delta beat rival It’s Tricky by 9 1/2 lengths in the Beldame Invitational.
Ridden by Joel Rosario, the 6-year-old Flat Out challenged pace-setter Stay Thirsty when the 10-horse field turned for home, and closed the margin with every stride before putting his head in front at the wire.
Whitney Invitational winner and 5-2 favorite Fort Larned was third, followed by Atigun, Fast Falcon, Ron the Greek, Game Ball, Hymn Book, San Pablo and Ruler On Ice.
The winning time for the 1 1/4 miles was 2:01.44.
In other stakes races, The Lumber Guy won the Vosburgh, Nahrain took the Flower Bowl Invitational, 4-5 favorite Point of Entry won the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, and Jersey Town was an upset winner in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap.
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez was aboard three Grade 1 winners — The Lumber Guy, Nahrain and Point of Entry.
The winning horses in each of the six stakes races earned automatic berths in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 2-3.
Stay Thirsty, the 2011 Travers winner who was 0-5 since, shot right to the lead under Ramon Dominguez. The colt trained by Todd Pletcher held off a challenge by Fort Larned with a quarter-mile to go, but was unable to handle the relentless run to the front by Flat Out.
Flat Out was trained by Scooter Dickey when he beat Mott’s Drosselmeyer in the Gold Cup last year, but the horse was transferred to Mott following a fifth-place finish in the Donn Handicap in February.
And now Mott looks as if he will have a chance to pull off a second straight Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic-BC Classic with Royal Delta and Flat Out. A year ago, Royal Delta won the Ladies Classic and Drosselmeyer won the Classic.
Owned by Preston Stables, Flat Out returned $9.30, $5.60 and $4. Stay Thirsty paid $10.80 and $6.70, and Fort Larned returned $4 to show.
The win was worth $600,000 and boosted Flat Out’s career earnings to $2,042,383.
Royal Delta kicked off the day with a dazzling 9 1/2-length win over rival It’s Tricky in the $400,000 Beldame. The 4-year-old star filly ridden by Mike Smith cruised past It’s Tricky heading into the turn and easily pulled away in the stretch. It was the third win for Royal Delta over It’s Tricky in five meetings.
Royal Delta ($3.70) already earned an automatic spot into the BC Ladies Classic with a win in the Delaware Handicap on July 21.
Winning time for 1 1/8 miles was 1:48.80.
“She ran a super race,” Mott said, “broke well, took it to the horse on the lead and she was much the best today. Just a very impressive performance.”
Jersey Town ($18) surprised even-money favorite To Honor and Serve and second choice Shackleford in the $400,000 Kelso. The win was trainer Barclay Tagg’s first since June 16, ending an 0-for-48 streak.
Shackleford, the 2011 Preakness winner, set a torrid pace for the first half mile, with To Honor and Serve the trailer in the six-horse field. But Jersey Town stormed into the lead in the stretch under Javier Castellano and beat Shackleford by 3 1/2 lengths, covering the mile in 1:35.24.
With the 6-year-old’s first win in nearly two years, Tagg said Jersey Town would likely run next in the BC Dirt Mile on Nov. 3.
“It worked out great,” Castellano said. “It was a hot pace. There was a lot of speed in the race, and it was small field. I just followed the best horse in the race. Turning for home, the (other) horses got tired. My horse is a really nice horse to ride.”
The Lumber Guy ($6.20) overtook leaders Little Drama and Poseidon’s Warrior in the stretch and won the $400,000 Vosburgh by 1 1/4 lengths over Caixa Eletronica. Winning time for the six furlongs was 1:09.22. The win over older horses likely sends the 3-year-old colt to the Breeders’ Cup, for either the Sprint or the Dirt Mile.
The Lumber Guy has won four of six starts, including the mile Jerome Handicap in April.
Nahrain ($12) won the $600,000 Flower Bowl by a half-length over Zagora. The 4-year-old filly’s first win of the year earned her a spot in the BC Filly & Mare Turf on Nov. 2.
Nahrain, trained by Roger Varian, covered the 1 1/4 miles on 2:05.56 over the yielding turf course. Dream Peace, the 2-1 favorite, was third.
Point of Entry ($3.50) pulled away for a 1 3/4-length win over Treasure Beach in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch, and will go into the BC Turf with a five-race winning streak.
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