2023 Jockey Club Gold Cup Contenders

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NYRA Press Release
Updated: August 31, 2023

Jockey Club Gold Cup Is A "Win and You're In" Race For the Breeders' Cup Classic

Proxy, Godolphin's Grade 1 winner, will make his Empire State debut in the 105th running of the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup going 10 furlongs for 3-year-olds and upward at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, September 2.

The Jockey Club Gold Cup is a "Win And You're In" qualifier, offering an automatic entry into the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic on November 4 at Santa Anita.

2023 Jockey Club Gold Cup Field & Odds

Race 11 at Saratoga on Saturday, September 2 - Post 6:18 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Proxy 2-1 Joel Rosario
126 Lbs
Michael Stidham
2 Unbridled Bomber 15-1 Dylan Davis
126 Lbs
James Ryerson
3 Warrior Johny 20-1 Junior Alvarado
126 Lbs
Philip Bauer
4 Rattle N Roll 9-5 Brian Hernandez, Jr.
126 Lbs
Kenneth McPeek
5 Clapton 8-1 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
126 Lbs
Chad Summers
6 Tyson 5-1 Manuel Franco
126 Lbs
Josie Carroll
7 Duke of Love 15-1 Luis Contreras
126 Lbs
Josie Carroll
8 Bright Future 6-1 Javier Castellano
126 Lbs
Todd Pletcher

Proxy, a son of Tapit, is a six-time winner over four different ovals and enters from a victory in the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup on July 22 going nine furlongs, where he led from start-to-finish.

The 5-year-old bay horse established clear command entering the turn before being pressed by multiple graded stakes-placed Calibrate to his outside down the backstretch. Around the far turn, the pair was joined by Whelen Springs, who was three wide nearing the quarter pole as Calibrate began to drop out of contention. Whelen Springs had dead aim on Proxy in mid-stretch, but the latter had enough left to kick clear to a 2 1/2-length triumph. Whelen Springs exited that effort to capture the Grade 3 Phillip H. Iselin on August 19 at Monmouth Park.

Proxy's Monmouth Cup conquest came two starts following an off-the-pace win in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 22, where he defeated multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Last Samurai and Grade 1-winner Stilleto Boy. Trainer Michael Stidham praised his talented earner of $2,024,970 for being able to switch things up tactically at Monmouth.

"He showed some versatility and showed us that he can adapt to the pace whatever it may be," Stidham said. "Those are things that earlier in his career he wasn't able to do. It gives us a little more confidence that if things don't set up the way we expect them, he can change tactics and still run a big race."

Proxy secured his breakthrough triumph in last year's Grade 1 Clark on November 25 at Churchill Downs, defeating eventual Grade 1-winner West Will Power by three-quarters of a length. The effort came five months following a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Stephen Foster last July at Churchill Downs, where he earned a career-high 104 Beyer Speed Figure finishing five lengths back of the victorious Olympiad - last year's Jockey Club Gold Cup winner.

´╗┐During his sophomore campaign, Proxy competed in a series of Kentucky Derby prep races at Fair Grounds Race Course, where he brags three of his six trips to the winner's circle. He finished second in the Grade 3 Lecomte and the Grade 2 Risen Star before rounding out the superfecta in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby.

Greyhound Betting

"We knew from early on that he had a lot of talent and that's why we were so ready to give him all the time he needed and let him mature mentally and physically to where he's at now and it's really paying off," Stidham said.

A Kentucky homebred, Proxy is out of the millionaire Include mare Panty Raid, who was a Grade 1-winner on both turf and all-weather. Proxy's older half-sister Micheline, by Bernardini, was a graded stakes winner on grass and won at distances ranging from one mile to 1 5/16 miles for Stidham.

"There's been temptation to try him on grass but when a horse is winning Grade 1s on dirt, if it ain't broke don't fix it. If things weren't doing well, we would try the grass but certainly, that's not even a question mark because he's gotten so good on dirt," Stidham said. "Micheline was real quirky about her stabling and Proxy is pretty laid back and easy to deal with. He can be a little quirky in his races, the way he runs. Sometimes, he'll drop way out of it or other times he'll show enough speed to be on or near the lead. Being around him and being around the barn and in his training, he's real compliant and easy to deal with."

Joel Rosario, a two-time Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, has been aboard Proxy for his last three wins and will return to the irons from post 1.

Trainer Kenny McPeek will saddle Lucky Seven Stable's Grade 1 winner Rattle N Roll, who was last seen posting a runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster on July 1 at Ellis Park. The 4-year-old Connect colt earned his Grade 1 accolade in his stakes debut, when conquering the Breeders' Futurity in October 2021 at Keeneland. He entered the Stephen Foster from a string of three graded stakes triumphs over as many racetracks, each of which produced a triple-digit Beyer. Rattle N Roll captured the Grade 3 Ben Ali on April 22 at Keeneland [101] before shipping to Pimlico Race Course to take the 1 3/16-mile Grade 3 Pimlico Special on May 19 [101], followed by a triumph in the Grade 3 Blame on June 3 at Churchill Downs [100].

Rattle N Roll, bred in Kentucky by St. Simon Place, is out of the Johannesburg mare Jazz Tune. He was selected by McPeek for $210,000 at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Rattle N Roll will break from post 4 in rein to Brian Hernandez, Jr.

´╗┐Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher will seek his second Jockey Club Gold Cup triumph when saddling Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Bright Future [post 8, Javier Castellano].

Bright Future defeated second-level winners by 4 3/4 lengths last out on July 21 traveling nine furlongs over the local going, where he earned a career-high 100 Beyer. The three-time winning son of Hall of Fame inductee Curlin, who won the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2007-08, made his lone stakes performance in the Grade 2 Brooklyn on June 10 going 12 furlongs at Belmont Park. He finished a distant eighth in his lone off-the-board placing.

"We always thought a lot of him," said Pletcher, who saddled 2020 Jockey Club Gold Cup winner Happy Saver. "The Brooklyn didn't go the way he had hoped, but he regrouped with a big score here and he's trained well since."

Bright Future appeared to be aptly named in his March 2022 debut, winning by 4 3/4 lengths going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park. After a third-place finish against winners three months later at Belmont Park, he received a freshening and returned to action with vigor, posting a 2 1/4-length score in a first level allowance optional claimer at Gulfstream Park, where he defeated eventual graded stakes winner Giant Game.

"We weren't really thinking Triple Crown races after his maiden, but he's always one we thought would develop into a good, solid stakes horse," Pletcher said. "He has a lot of Curlin about him; his physical makeup, demeanor and he seems to get better as he matures."

Bright Future was a $350,000 purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is out of the graded stakes placed Bellamy Road mare Sophia's Song. His second dam Dreamscape is a full-sister to dual Champion Sprinter and Hall of Famer Housebuster.

Trainer Josie Carroll will bring a pair of formidable contenders by way of Canada in last out graded stakes-winners Tyson [post 6, Manny Franco] and Duke of Love [post 7, Luis Contreras].

Hill `n' Dale Equine Holdings' Kentucky homebred Tyson brings a highly consistent 5-4-0-1 record into his dirt debut, entering from a three-length score in the Grade 3 Seagram Cup going 1 1/16 miles on July 29 over Tapeta at Woodbine. The 4-year-old Tapit gray previously captured the Grade 2 Dominion Day at the Toronto oval, defeating stablemate Treason by 1 1/2 lengths while earning a career-high 101 Beyer.

Tyson is out of the Smart Strike mare Honouring - a half-sister to Grade 1-winner Streaming as well as Teeming, whose fifth offspring Arcangelo captured this year's Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets and Grade 1 Travers. He hails from the prolific line of Reine de Course broodmares Better Than Honor and Best in Show.

MyRacehorse's Duke of Love has campaigned mainly over Woodbine's all-weather surface, but has captured both of his conventional dirt starts. The 4-year-old bay son of Cupid won last year's Prince of Wales on dirt at Fort Erie by a half-length over next out graded stakes winner Ironstone. Following a trio of unplaced efforts at Woodbine, Duke of Love returned to the dirt to capture the Grade 3 West Virginia Governor's Cup on August 6 at Mountaineer Park.

Completing the field are Grade 2 Suburban second and third-place finishers Clapton [post 5, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Unbridled Bomber [post 2, Dylan Davis], as well as three-time winning stakes-placed Warrior Johny [post 3, Junior Alvarado].

The Jockey Club Gold Cup is carded as Race 11 on Saturday's 12-race program, which also includes the Grade 2, $500,000 Flower Bowl - a "Win And You're In" for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf - the Grade 2, $250,000 Prioress, and the listed $150,000 Harvey Pack. First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.

Since its first running in 1919, the Jockey Club Gold Cup has been one of the most prestigious events on New York's racing calendar, won by Hall of Famers such as Man o' War [1920], Hill Prince [1950], Nashua [1955-56], Sword Dancer [1959], Buckpasser [1966], Damascus [1967], Forego [1974], John Henry [1981], Easy Goer [1989], Cigar [1995], and Skip Away[1996-97]. The Hall of Famer Kelso won the Jockey Club Gold Cup a record five straight years from 1960-64 before Hall of Fame filly Shuvee beat males two years in a row [1970-71]. In addition, nine Kentucky Derby winners have won the prized event, including Triple Crown winning Hall of Famers Gallant Fox [1930], Whirlaway [1942], Citation [1948] and Affirmed [1979]. Contested at Belmont Park from 1975-2020, the historic event found a new home at Saratoga in 2021.

OffTrackBetting.com - US Legal and licensed online Saratoga betting is a great way to wager on the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga Race Course in New York. Available to customers across the United States, OTB features both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing from major racing venues in the US as well as top international racing from Europe, Italy, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.

Pre-Draw News

Clapton Targets Grade 1 JCGC

August 24 - Clapton, a half-length winner of the Grade 3 Ghostzapper in April at Gulfstream Park, was purchased privately by Sheikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi's RRR Racing and has been transferred to trainer Chad Summers.

The 4-year-old Brethren colt will target next Saturday's 10-furlong Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup which offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park.

Summers said Clapton, who finished second to Charge It last out in the 10-furlong Grade 2 Suburban on July 8 at Belmont Park, will be given every opportunity to make the Breeders' Cup with longer-term targets at the Dubai World Cup Carnival under consideration.

"I'm grateful for the opportunity to work for His Highness," Summers said. "We try and find horses for the carnival and the big races overseas, year in and year out. We've had a few horses on our radar and we were able to get this deal done.

"If he were to run well here, you'd look towards a race like the Breeders' Cup," added Summers. "If not, we'll prepare him for races at the carnival like the Maktoum Challenge Round 1 going a mile and it opens up the door to the Saudi Cup and the Dubai World Cup. There's a lot of window of opportunity over there. How he does Saturday will do a lot to determining his future stateside or overseas."

Previously trained by Juan Alvarado, the former Florida homebred for Arindel boasts a record of 22-5-4-6 for purse earnings of $522,890. He has competed mainly at Gulfstream Park, graduating at six furlongs in July 2021 and taking the one-mile Gil Campbell Memorial Handicap in October. Clapton has made his last three starts in graded company, finishing third to likely returning rival Rattle N Roll in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 3 Pimlico Special in May ahead of his Suburban effort that garnered a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure.

"If you go back and watch his races, he's very consistent. He's a cool horse and there's things we look for in our purchases - he's tactical; and he's won at different distances," Summers said. "His Ghostzapper going a mile and a sixteenth was really impressive. He came back and ran a mile and a quarter in the Suburban last time out running second to Charge It and that is nothing to sneeze at. I love his running style. He just grinds and he keeps trying."

Clapton worked five-eighths in 1:00.12 Saturday over the Gulfstream Park main track in company with four-time winner The Skipper Too, who recently ran fourth in the Birdstone on July 27 here.

"He did it the right way," Summers said. "He worked in company with Skipper and blew him away at the top of the stretch. He's up here now and we'll look to breeze him on the weekend."

To win the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Clapton will have to topple a talented field led by Grade 1-winner and $2-million earning Godolphin homebred Proxy.

"It's going to be a tough field," Summers said. "Any time you run against the blue - whether in America or overseas - blue is the one you've got to try and beat. We'll give it our all and hopefully get a little lucky."

Clapton, a full-brother to stakes-placed Knox, is out of the stakes-winning Afleet Alex mare Alexandra Rylee.

2023 Jockey Club Gold Cup Probables

Probable: Bright Future (Pletcher), Clapton (Chad Summers), Duke of Love (Josie Carroll), Proxy (Michael Stidham), Rattle N Roll (McPeek), Unbridled Bomber (Jim Ryerson), Warrior Johny (Phil Bauer)

Proxy on target for 2023 Jockey Club Gold Cup G1

August 24 - Godolphin's Kentucky homebred Proxy, winner of the Grade 1 Clark in November at Churchill Downs, will headline next Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup. The 10-furlong test for 3-year-olds and up offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park.

The 5-year-old Tapit bay, out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Include mare Panty Raid, was last seen on July 22 posting a gate-to-wire score in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Monmouth Cup.

With Joel Rosario up, Proxy grinded through three-quarters in 1:12.05 and held a narrow head lead at the stretch call over Whelen Springs but drew clear with an eighth of a mile to run and won by 2 1/2-lengths. Whelen Springs exited that effort to win the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin at Monmouth.

Stidham said the odds-on victory was an unorthodox one for the late-running Proxy.

"Going into the race, it looked like the type of field he was a bit superior in and the way the race set up we ended up on the lead, which was very surprising," Stidham said. "There wasn't much speed and Rosario didn't want to take a chance of getting him shuffled back. We wound up on the lead, and turning for home, it looked like we were in trouble actually. By the eighth pole, he started to inch away and won it pretty easily in the end.

"It turned out to be a bit of a tough race for him, but he came out of it in good shape," added Stidham. "He's been doing very well. He's had two works and we'll work him again this weekend which will be his final work going into the Jockey Club."

Proxy has banked in excess of $2 million through a record of 18-6-6-2. He hit the board in five graded stakes before making the grade with a prominent three-quarter length score over West Will Power in the nine-furlong Clark.

Proxy rallied from seventh to finish a close second to Stilleto Boy in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March ahead of a late rush to win the nine-furlong Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap by a head in April.

"He's pretty baffling the way he runs. If the race isn't loaded with speed where he gets shuffled back early, he's able to maintain his position," Stidham said. "But when they go really fast up front and he gets shuffled back, a lot of times it's difficult for him to make up the ground.

"Although, in the Santa Anita Handicap that happened and he was able to almost get there - he came and made a late surge," Stidham continued. "It's quite quirky the way he runs, but hopefully things set up well and I think the mile and a quarter only helps our chances as it tends to be a bit of a slower pace early and a little bit more ground for him to make up ground when he needs to."

Stidham finished second in the 2020 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup with Godolphin homebred Mystic Guide, who went on to capture the Group 1 Dubai World Cup five months later at Meydan Racecourse.

"Getting horses like Proxy and Mystic Guide is every trainer's dream come true. I can't say enough about the opportunities that they've given me," said Stidham regarding training for Godolphin.

Whether or not his talented bay horse returns for another season of racing will likely depend on how well he finishes up this campaign, but Stidham said he has appreciated the opportunity to watch Proxy develop over four seasons of racing.

"As a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old, he was a tall, narrowish type of colt. You could see he was a big kid that hadn't grown up yet and now he's an absolute picture," Stidham said. "He's such a big, pretty horse with big dapples all over him and very good conformation. He's matured and developed both mentally and physically into the horse that we hoped he would be."