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Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes leads Hoppertunity down Victory Lane after the 2016 Jockey Club Gold Cup with jockey John Velazquez aboard
The highlight of the Belmont Park Fall Championship Meeting is the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Classic, contested at the Classic distance of 1 1/4 miles on the main track. Light rain fell during the races, however the main track remained officially fast and the turf courses firm at the Long Island oval, with temperatures in the high 60's. After 1 scratch, a field of just 5 went to post with Suburban (G2) winner Effinex sent off as the 5-4 favorite off a 4th place finish in the Whitney (G1). In to challenge him included 7-4 second choice Mubtaahij, second in the Woodward (G1) and Dubai World Cup (G1) while third in the Suburban (G2) and 7-2 third choice Hoppertunity, fourth in both the Santa Anita Gold Cup (G1) and thePacific Classic (G1).
Hoppertunity leads in the stretch.
Check out the other races on the card: The Champage, Frizette, and Hill Prince and The Flower Bowl and Kelso Handicap.
# Horse Jockey Win Place Show 3 Hoppertunity Velazquez 9.60 4.00 2.60 6 Effinex Smith 3.00 2.20 1 Protonico Castellano 3.80 Winning Time: 2:00.68 $2 Exacta 3-6 24.40 $2 Trifecta 3-6-1 74.00 $2 Superfecta 3-6-1-2 94.50Results Chart
Left: Hoppertunity in the winner's circle. Jimmy Barnes, assistant to winning trainer Bob Baffert said, "There wasn't a whole lot of speed in the race other than Effinex. Everybody stayed sensible. The most important thing for Hopper is that he was standing good and broke good and he was placed more forwardly in the race, especially on a slow pace, that's probably why he was a little closer. We always thought in our minds that he would like these big turns here, and this big, deep track where he would have a chance to come from behind. We didn't want run at home. This race is 1 1/4. You run in the Awesome Again, it's 1 1/8. The horse wants distance - that was the main reason to come here. He's had a tough campaign. He's won at Churchill, he's won at Santa Anita. He ran his race in Dubai, but he had to run against California Chrome there."
Right: Hoppertunity heads back to the barn in his "Win and You're In" blanket.
Left: Hoppertunity in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "They told me he can be a little lazy the first part of the race so I sent him out of there and made sure he was somewhere in the mix, not too far back. He was in the bridle, so he was very good and just cruising along at a good pace. I was just kind of reminding him to stay where I needed him to be and he did everything I wanted him to. I knew that he's always going around other horses and I wanted him to be inside, save all the ground I could and try to work my way out somewhere around the 3/8 pole, the 1/4 pole, and it worked out that way.
Right: Hoppertunity in the post parade.
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Effinex returns after the race. Owner Dr. Russell Cohen said, "We haven't missed anything with him, he hasn't shied away from anybody. At the end of the day, I'm honored just to be here and have a horse of his significance and impact in the game. Being a small outfit with very humble circumstances, I'm really honored to have a really sound horse that shows the high levels of racing can be achieved. We're in for the Breeders' Cup. There's no question about it, we're going."
Right: Third place finisher Protonico in the post parade. The Todd Pletcher trainee has a record of 7 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds, earning $997,587 for owner Sumaya U.S. Stable.
Check out the other races on the card: The Champagne, Frizette, and Hill Prince and The Flower Bowl, Kelso Handicap, and Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational..