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Oct 13, 2006

Bernardini cruises to win Jockey Club Gold Cup

Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - Leading three-year-old Bernardini took on older thoroughbreds for the first time on Saturday and proved to be unimpressed as he easily defeated three rivals in the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. Bernardini covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.02.

Owned by Darley Stable, Bernardini allowed Brooklyn Handicap winner Wanderion Boy to set the pace. Bernardini was never far behind with Andromeda's Hero running third and Irish Derby winner Dylan Thomas far in the back.

Bernardini, under jockey Javier Castellano, began to run in earnest around the turn for home. He hooked up with Wanderin Boy at the top of the stretch and took the lead for good with a furlong to run.

Trained by Tom Albertrani, Bernardini hit the wire six lengths in front of Wanderin Boy with Andromeda's Hero third and Dylan Thomas a disappointing fourth.

"I think that with every race, this horse has matured mentally, and physically, he looks so well," said Albertrani. "With every race, starting with the Preakness, he has developed and gets better and better. He is just a delight to be around. He's very professional, very easy to handle."

The field of four was the smallest for a Gold Cup since 1988. Whitney Handicap winner Invasor was held out of the race after falling ill last week.

Bernardini, who did not race as a two-year-old, has now six straight race and five consecutive stakes. He has earned more than $2 million after taking home the $450,000 winner's check Saturday.

Next up is the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 4, where Bernardini is expected to the favorite.

For the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Bernardini returned $2.30 and $2.10, and Wanderin Boy paid $3.50. There was no show wagering.

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