Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tonalist makes determined run to win G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Tonalist makes determined run to win G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup


By Jon Forbes


ELMONT, N.Y. - Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist earned another big victory on TVG Super Saturday at Belmont Park, overcoming a troubled trip to rally from last in the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup for 3-year-olds and up.


With the win, Tonalist becomes the 24th horse to win both the Belmont Stakes and Jockey Club Gold Cup in his career and first since eventual Champion Three-Year-Old Male Summer Bird swept the races in 2009.


Tonalist, racing without blinkers for the first time since his debut last November, was slightly favored at 3-1 in the 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup over fellow 3-year-old Wicked Strong. Leaving from post 7, Tonalist was content to drop back to 10th on the first turn as long shot Big Cazanova set spirited fractions of 23.60 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 47.42 for the half.


With 4 ½ furlongs to travel, Wicked Strong unseated jockey Rajiv Maragh after bumping with Moreno, forcing Tonalist to check at the back of the pack. Undaunted, Tonalist commenced his rally while racing along the rail on the far turn.


Tonalist had advanced into fourth at the top of the stretch before steadying behind Long River nearing the furlong marker. After shifting outward, Tonalist split Long River and Zivo and kicked clear under Joel Rosario to win by a widening 1 ¾ lengths.


The final time was 2:02.12. Tonalist returned $8.10 for a $2 win wager.


"I thought I would be laying third or fourth, but he didn't break that quick," said Rosario, who also won the 2012 Jockey Club Gold Cup aboard Flat Out. "He didn't get out very quick, but I just let him run on his own. When I passed the half-mile, and the [jockey] fell in front of me, it scared me a little bit and I was just trying to get out of the way. After that I tried to save ground. I was hoping to go through on the inside, but [the opening] closed up and I had to go around."


"He relaxed very nicely," Rosario continued. "I was probably a little far back but I wasn't worried about it; I didn't want to make him do something he didn't want to do. I could see turning for home they were coming back to me and he found a way through. I'm happy we got the money. He's a one-paced horse, and when he starts going, he goes forever. I was really happy with the trip."


Zivo finished second and was two lengths clear of third-place finisher Long River. Moreno was fourth under the wire but was disqualified and placed ninth for interfering with Wicked Strong.


It was the first Jockey Club Gold Cup victory for Christophe Clement, who trains Tonalist for Robert S. Evans.


In the spring at Belmont, Tonalist won the Grade 2 Peter Pan by four lengths in the slop in May and made a late surge to take the Belmont Stakes by a head. At Saratoga Race Course, he was second to Wicked Strong in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy in July and third to V. E. Day and Wicked Strong in the Grade 1 Travers on August 23.


Tonalist's losses in the Jim Dandy and Travers inspired Clement to remove the blinkers from the 3-year-old for the Jockey Club Gold Cup.


"I probably should have removed the blinkers before the Travers," said Clement. "He, obviously, was a bit too aggressive in the Travers. Even so, he didn't quit. I love the way that even when he got beat in the Travers he went on to the wire."


From fourth on, the official order of finish was Stephanoatsee, V. E. Day, Last Gunfighter, Big Cazanova, Speak Logistics, and Moreno. Micromanage was eased. Prayer for Relief was scratched in the paddock.


Maragh, who won the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic aboard Main Sequence in the previous race, was transported to North Shore University Hospital at Manhasset for evaluation for an injury to his right arm.



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