Tonalist records an impressive victory in Belmont Park's featurePICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
Tonalist triumphs in dramatic Jockey Club
Report: USA, Saturday
Belmont Park: Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade 1) 1m2f, dirt, 3yo+
BELMONT STAKES winner Tonalist (Christophe Clement/Joel Rosario) returned to the scene of his greatest triumph for more of the same as he closed strongly to capture victory in a dramatic running of the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup.
The race lost one of its major fancies when Travers Stakes runner-up Wicked Strong was almost brought down when clipping heels entering far turn, losing his rider Rajiv Maragh in the process. The horse was unhurt, but Maragh was taken to hospital with a suspected broken arm.
Wicked Strong had finished ahead of Tonalist when both were beaten by longshot V E Day in the Travers. Joel Rosario changed tactics on 3-1 favourite Tonalist this time, however, settling the son of Tapit - minus his customary blinkers - towards the back of the field as Big Cazanova hassled Moreno out of the lead.
Tonalist closed nicely at the turn, where the loose horse threatened mayhem, before setting his sights on new leader Long River in the stretch.
He had to be threaded through horses before registering a decisive victory by a length and three-quarters over Zivo, who met rather more trouble in running as he also closed from the rear. Tonalist stopped the clock in 2min 02.12sec.
"I thought I would be laying third or fourth but he didn't break that quick," said Joel Rosario. "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 it closed up and I had to go around."
Long River held third from Moreno, who was disqualified from fourth and placed last by the stewards for his role in the incident that ended up with Wicked Strong's rider Maragh on the floor.
Main Sequence lands his third Grade 1 since switching to the StatesPICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
Also on Saturday
Belmont Park: Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (Grade 1) 1m4f, turf, 3yo+
Main Sequence (Graham Motion/Rajiv Maragh), runner-up to Camelot in the 2012 Derby for former trainer David Lanigan, made it three Grade 1 wins in three US starts when surviving an objection to take this $600,000 contest.
The five-year-old, a gelded son of Aldebaran, will go to the Breeders' Cup Turf as the home team's prime contender after overcoming a slow pace that did not suit his late-running style before just getting the better of Twilight Eclipse in a tight finish.
The stewards dismissed an objection from the latter's jockey Jose Lezcano who alleged interference in the stretch drive; it was interesting how the winner seemed to falter in his effort when touched with the whip, only to push through once it was put down.
Main Sequence, a 19-10 chance, had already won the United Nations at Monmouth and the Sword Dancer Invitational at Saratoga before this neck success. He never wins by much, his two previous successes having come by a neck and a head.
"It's never easy, is it?" said Graham Motion said. "What a cool horse. Ironically, I thought he ran his most professional race today, and then you had the bump right before the wire."
Stephanie's Kitten gets her season back on trackPICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
Belmont Park: Flower Bowl Invitational (Grade 1) 1m2f, turf, 3yo+ f/m
After failing to score in four starts this term, leading turf mare Stephanie's Kitten (Chad Brown/John Velazquez) landed the third Grade 1 success of a glittering career with a straightforward win in this $600,000 contest.
Having closed well when ridden out the back on her previous two outings, the five-year-old - who also won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf in 2011 when it was a Grade 2 - was ridden much closer in a stalking position as Viva Rafaela got away with a fairly soft lead.
Running over this 1m2f trip for the first time, the 6-5 favourite collared Viva Rafaela inside the final furlong and was always holding the late rally of runner-up Abaco. She scored by a length and a quarter to earn a fees-paid berth in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf on October 31, which is where she goes next.
"We've been working backwards from the Filly & Mare Turf, and believed this filly could get there all year as one of the horses to beat," said Chad Brown.
Belmont Park: Vosburgh Invitational (Grade 1) 6f, dirt, 3yo+
On just his second start of the year, the five-year-pld Private Zone (Alfredo Velazquez/Martin Pedroza) produced a gutsy performance to fight off Dads Caps for a repeat success in this major trial for the Breeders' Cup Sprint.
The winner, a 6-1 shot, had not run for five months before a recent outing on the grass. Not only did he have to repel a stern challenge from the second, he was taken on up front by Happy My Way before getting home in a time of 1min 08.95sec.
"He's a warrior," said Martin Pedroza. "He's a great competitor. He doesn't like to get beat. Once he looks a horse in the eyeball he just gains confidence. I haven't been on a horse as game as this horse in 30 years.''
Things just did not fall right for 6-5 favourite Palace as he attempted to complete a Grade 1 hat-trick. Held in on the rail from gate one and seemingly resenting the fact, he was pulled out in the stretch and closed evenly for third without ever looking likely to overhaul the principals.
Belmont Park: Beldame Invitational (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo+ f/m
Gifted an easy lead, former claimer Belle Gallantey (Rudy Rodriguez/Jose Ortiz) went wire-to-wire for a runaway victory in the Beldame, the first of five Grade 1s on the Super Saturday card.
The five-year-old obviously needs the lead, as she produced a carbon-copy of her breakthrough success in the Delaware Handicap in July by making all.
Having disappointed next time in the Saratoga mud, she made no mistake here, breaking alertly from the outside post before romping away in the stretch to score by more than eight lengths from the favourite Stopchargingmaria.
Sent off a 4.7-1 chance, Belle Gallantey had been claimed for just $35,000 as recently as December when finishing last of four in a minor event on the dirt at Aqueduct.
Amazingly, she has since won five out of seven, two of them in Grade 1 company, this latest top-level success completing a double for her alchemist trainer Rudy Rodriguez, who also won the previous race with Vyjack.
"It's very, very special," Rodriguez said. "We're working very hard with these kinds of horses, and thank God they did it. I don't know what to tell you. I'm speechless."
Belmont Park: Kelso Hcap (Grade 2) 1m, dirt, 3yo+
Vyjack (Rudy Rodriguez/Irad Ortiz) set up a high-profile double for his trainer when coming late four wide to run down front-running River Rocks in a race named in honour of the great five-time horse of the year Kelso, who won the last of his five consecutive Jockey Clubs 50 years ago in 1964.
Sent off just short of a 10-1 shot, Vyjack scored by a length, with odds-on favourite Itsmyluckyday (gave 6lb to the winner) doing his Breeders' Cup chances no good back in third.