The 94th running of the Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on Saturday will feature a half dozen winners of stake races.
Woodrow Wilson was president, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 660 and Sir Barton became the first Triple Crown winner when Belmont Park inaugurated the Gold Cup. The year was 1919. The winner: Purchase. The purse: $5,850.
Purchase was headed to the Kentucky Derby when he reared up in his stall, caught a front hoof in a haystack and was slightly injured. The son of Ormondale also missed the Preakness. The colt still won nine of 11 races during his sophomore year, including a three-length victory over Sir Barton in the Dwyer, and was the runner-up in two other stakes.
Nine horses have posted back-to-back victories in the Gold Cup with Curlin the latest in ’07 and ’08 when the purse was $450,000. Flat Out will try to join the select group that includes Kelso, the only horse to win the weight-for-age race more than twice. He did it an amazing five times from ’60 to ’64, when he was 7.
The 6-year-old son of Flatter worked five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 at Saratoga last Sunday when Atigun, one of eight or nine expected runners in the $1 million Grade 1, posted a bullet 1:01 at the distance.
But Flat Out hasn’t visited the winner’s circled since last Oct. 1 when he defeated ’11 Breeders’ Cup Classic champ Drosselmeyer by 2 ¼ lengths covering the 1 ¼ miles in 2:03 over a muddy surface.
Atigun, fourth in the Travers, will try to become the first 3-year-old since Curlin five years ago to capture the race. The son of Istan last tasted victory on Kentucky Derby Day in a Churchill Downs allowance route over a muddy surface.
Others in the field working last weekend included Hymn Book, Gulfstream’s Donn Handicap winner, who breezed four furlongs in 46 4/5, galloping out five furlongs in 59 4/5 at Belmont on Sunday. The 6-year-old gelding worked over a drying out track labeled good following heavy rains hit the New York area Saturdaynight.
Hymn Book, 2-2-0 in 4 starts at Belmont and 4 for 5 over wet surfaces. The son of Arch is coming off a fourth-place finish behind Fort Larned in the Whitney at Saratoga on Aug. 4.
Fort Larned breezed five furlongs in 1:01 over a good Belmont surface on Sunday. The son of Dubai has won four times in his past six starts and scored once in two tries on an off track. Before his Whitney triumph, the 4-year-old captured the Cornhusker on June 30.
Two other contenders are Stay Thirsty, the 4-year-old son of Bernardini, and Ron the Greek, the 5-year-old son of Full Mandate.
Stay Thirsty, who worked five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 at Belmont on Sunday, hasn’t scored since the ’11 Travers. Ron the Greek, who breezed four furlongs in 48 1/5 at Saratoga on Saturday, is 2-3-0 of 5 this year, winning the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs.