Elmont, NY (Sports Network) - Trainer Bill Mott has the top two entrants in Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. Defending winner Flat Out and Ron the Greek will face eight rivals in the 1 1/4-mile stakes.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup along with the Beldame and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic are Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" races. The winner of each race gains automatic entry into respective stakes for next month's Breeders' Cup World Championships at Santa Anita.
Flat Out, owned by Preston Stables, is the 3-1 second pick after Ron the Greek at 5-2. Joel Rosario will ride Flat Out from post nine and Ron the Greek, owned by Brous Stable, will break from the rail post with Jose Lezcano aboard.
"I'm very pleased with the way both of them are coming into the race," said Mott, who won the Gold Cup in 1995 with Hall of Fame horse Cigar. "Flat Out has had a fair amount of time to get over the Whitney. We've had a nice training schedule since then, and obviously he's run well on the track before (winning the Suburban Handicap last year). I mean, that's got to be a bonus anytime you've got one running on any particular track, if they've already been a dual winner there."
The Whitney was won by Fort Larned, the 7-2 third pick for Saturday, Ron the Greek was second and Flat Out third.
"The Whitney is a very prestigious race, and it's an honor just to be in a race like the Jockey Club Gold Cup," said Ian Wilkes, who trains Fort Larned for Janis Whitham. "I'm a little bit apprehensive about getting caught up in who's going to be at the 'head of the class.' I'm just trying to look at it as we've won one Grade 1 race, we're trying to add another, and then finish up the year in the Breeders' Cup Classic."
Here is the full field in post position order for the Gold Cup: Ron the Greek, Jose Lezcano, 5-2; Stay Thirsty, Ramon Dominguez, 12-1; Ruler On Ice, Alan Garcia, 20-1; Hymn Book, John Velazquez, 5-1; Fort Larned, Brian Hernandez Jr., 7-2; Atigun, Mike Smith, 15-1; Fast Falcon, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; San Pablo, Javier Castellano, 12-1; Flat Out, Joel Rosario, 3-1 and Game Ball, Jose Espinoza, 50-1.
Champion filly Royal Delta is the even-money favorite for the $400,000 Beldame Invitational. The 4-year-old will take on six other fillies and mares in the 1 1/8-mile stakes.
"Frankly, it's a race I'd like to get on my resume as well as hers," said Mott who also trains Royal Delta. "It's a race I have never won. I know I've run in it with three of my Breeders' Cup (Ladies' Classic) winners, and each has been beaten. Royal Delta was second in it; Unrivaled Belle was second and she won the Breeders' Cup; and a filly named Ajina was second and she won the Breeders' Cup."
Royal Delta, owned by Besilu Stables, will start from post three with Mike Smith in the saddle. She finished second to Havre de Grace in last year's Beldame by 8 1/4 lengths.
From the rail out here is the field for the Beldame: Go Unbridled, Joel Rosario, 20-1; Maristar, John Velazquez, 15-1; Royal Delta, Mike Smith, even; Cash for Clunkers, Alan Garcia, 8-1; Disposablepleasure, Ramon Dominguez, 12-1; It's Tricky, Eddie Castro, 7-5 and Acting Happy, Javier Castellano, 20-1.
Arlington Million winner Little Mike tops a field of six for the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 1 1/2-miles. Trained by Dale Romans, Little Mike is the 2-1 second choice behind 4-5 favorite Point of Entry.
Little Mike will be attempting 1 1/2-miles for the first time after winning the Million at 1 1/4-miles.
"You're always concerned about something you haven't done before," said Romans. "But he got the mile-and-a-quarter easy enough, and, hopefully, he can go ahead and get the mile-and-a-half. It will be the right kind of pace."
Owned by Priscilla Vaccarezza, Little Mike will start from post four with Ramon Dominguez again riding. The pair won the Million at odds of 7-2 after setting the entire pace.
The 5-year-old gelding has won 11 of 15 career starts on the turf with four other starts on main tracks. He comes into the Joe Hirsch with more than $1.4 million in the bank.
Here is the field in post position order for the Turf Classic: Hailstone, Julien Leparoux, 20-1; Point of Entry, John Velazquez, 4-5; Treasure Beach, Jamie Spencer, 6-1; Little Mike, Ramon Dominguez, 2-1; Kindergarden Kid, Javier Castellano, 12-1 and Finnegans Wake, Joel Rosario, 10-1.