Mendelssohn and Thunder Snow put Classic claims on line in Jockey Club Gold Cup
Toast Of New York in action at Churchill Downs
With just over a month to go until the Breeders' Cup, Mendelssohn and Thunder Snow are among the contenders putting the finishing touches to their preparation for Churchill Downs.
The Classic aspirants feature among eight runners in a strong edition of the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup (10.50pm) at Belmont Park.
Mendelssohn produced a good performance to be second in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga last month, and trainer Aidan O’Brien is keen to give the three-year-old more experience in the US before the Breeders’ Cup.
He said: “Mendelssohn travelled over well and the lads who went with him are very happy with him. We decided he'd take another race on dirt before the Breeders' Cup Classic and we've been happy with him since the Travers.”
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow returns to the dirt for the first time since landing the Dubai World Cup in March, and trainer Saeed Bin Suroor is keen to move on from a disappointing performance in the Juddmonte International.
“He’s in good shape and it’s going to be a tough race,” he said. “We're working toward the Classic, that is his main target. Forget his run at York. He lost two shoes, and that must have affected his running to some extent.”
The home challenge, which includes the former Jeremy Noseda-trained Gronkowski (Chad Brown/Jose Ortiz), is led by Diversify (Richard Violette/Irad Ortiz), winner of the Whitney Stakes last time out.
Mind Your Biscuits chased home Diversify in the Whitney Stakes, and the Golden Shaheen winner is among those taking on Toast Of New York in the Grade 3 Lukas Classic Stakes (3.11am Sunday) at Churchill Downs.
Toast Of New York’s preparation in Kentucky is being overseen by Jimmy McCarthy, assistant to Jamie Osborne, and he said on Friday: “He travelled over pretty well and had a good canter yesterday and today. Touch wood, he seems fine and very happy with himself.
“Mind Your Biscuits is going to be hard to beat and last year’s winner Honorable Duty is running, so it’s no walk in the park. We’re hopeful he can put in a good show to justify coming back.”
At 66-1, Toast Of New York is among the outsiders for the Classic, but favourite Accelerate (John Sadler/Joel Rosario) and third favourite West Coast (Bob Baffert/Mike Smith) clash in the Awesome Again Stakes (1.00am) at Santa Anita, where the Grade 1 Rodeo Drive Stakes (12.30am) and Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes (10.30pm Sunday) also take place this weekend.
Two Grade 1s also take place alongside the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont – the Vosburgh Stakes (9.09pm Saturday), in which Imperial Hint (Luis Carvajal/Javier Castellano) is the strong favourite to boost his Breeders' Cup Sprint prospects, and the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (9.42pm).
Trainer Tom Dascombe pitches Teodoro (Ryan Moore) into the 1m4f contest, in whichhe will have to defeat Arlington Million winner Robert Bruce (Chad Brown/Irad Ortiz).
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