Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) — Race 11 (5:45 p.m. ET)
Trainer Todd Pletcher has officially won the historic Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) only once, with Happy Saver in 2020, the last year the race was held at Belmont Park. On Saturday, the Hall of Fame conditioner will be aggressively targeting the $1 million renewal of the 1 1/4-mile test at Saratoga when he sends out four of the eight runners, with a free berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) on the line.
Pletcher’s first taste at Gold Cup glory almost came in 2019, when Vino Rosso crossed the wire in first. Although the four-year-old was disqualified for interference, he made amends by winning the Classic at Santa Anita and champion older dirt male honors.
Pletcher’s quartet varies in likeability, with Dynamic One and Americanrevolution figuring more strongly. Dynamic One, like Vino Rosso, is peaking at age four and over a mile and a quarter. He enters off back-to-back stakes wins, including the Suburban (G2) at Belmont Park, which he won narrowly over Pimlico Special (G3) scorer First Captain. Finishing third was the Pletcher-trained pacesetter Untreated, who also figures to be prominent early in the Gold Cup.
“Physically, I think he’s always been a strong and good-looking horse, but I think he’s filled out even more,” said Pletcher of Dynamic One. “More than anything, he’s just become a little more professional in his races and he’s figured it out. I would say he’s made quite a bit of mental progress.”
Americanrevolution, who captured the Cigar Mile (G1) last December, has had only two outings this year. A dull fourth to Dynamic One when favored in the Blame S. at Churchill Downs, he next finished a clear second to Olympiad in the Stephen Foster (G2). The Foster was the fourth consecutive stakes win for Olympiad, who previously captured the Mineshaft (G3), New Orleans Classic (G2), and Alysheba (G2), but the Bill Mott trainee will have to do better than he did in last month’s Whitney (G1), when he beaten more than nine lengths by Life Is Good.
Keepmeinmind, the fourth Pletcher charge in the Gold Cup, returned from an 11-month layoff in a track-and-distance first-level allowance on July 22, winning by 2 3/4 lengths in his debut for the stable. Previously with Robertino Diodoro, Keepmeinmind’s only prior win had come in the 2020 Kentucky Jockey Club (G2).
Tax, who captured the Jim Dandy (G2) over the track three years ago, won a small Delaware Park stakes on July 9 in his first outing in more than 17 months. Completing the field is Grade 2 winner Chess Chief, who has never won outside Fair Grounds.
Flower Bowl S. (G2) — Race 10 (5:09 p.m. ET)
War Like Goddess will be a heavy favorite to defend her title in the $600,000 Flower Bowl S. (G2), a 1 3/8-mile grass test for fillies and mares which was downgraded this year from Grade 1 status. Nonetheless, the winner of the race will receive a free berth to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1), which will be run this year at Keeneland over 1 3/16 miles.
War Like Goddess is following the same path toward the Breeders’ Cup that she did last year. Her only setback in her last seven outings was a third-place effort in last year’s Filly and Mare Turf at Del Mar, but she’s overcome pedestrian paces to repeat in both the Bewitch (G3) and Glens Falls (G2) earlier in the season.
Re-opposing are Temple City Terror and Grade 2 winner Virginia Joy, the respective second- and third-place finishers in the Glens Falls.
The first stakes on the final Saturday of the Saratoga meet is the $200,000 Saranac S. (G3) for three-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The expected strong favorite among the field of five is Grade 2 winner Annapolis, most recently second in the Saratoga Derby (G1) for Pletcher.