December 5, 2020

Diversify breezes bullet half-mile, connections still on the fence for Breeders’ Cup Classic

Jockey Club Gold Cup Stakes (G1) winner Diversify breezed a bullet, best-of-60, half-mile in :46.88 over Belmont Park’s fast main track on Saturday one week out from a possible start in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar.

With trainer Rick Violette Jr. watching and regular exercise rider Rodney Paine in the irons, the four-year-old son of Bellamy Road broke off inside of a stablemate and hit the wire about three lengths ahead of his workmate.

“It was very, very similar to the breeze before the Gold Cup,” Violette said. “They went off a little quick, they went off in :22 and change and that wasn’t by design, so I actually throttled them down a little galloping out (over the walkie talkie).

“He went terrific. They got him in :46 and four and I got him out in :59 and change. He didn’t do anything this morning to discourage us from getting on a plane.”

Diversify earned an automatic, all-fees-paid spot in the starting gate for the Breeders’ Cup Classic by wiring the October 7 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont. However, the New York-bred gelding’s owners, Ralph M. Evans and his daughter Lauren Evans, have not yet given the go ahead for him to start in the 1 1/4-mile championship event.

One of the main concerns is the number of speed horses running in this year’s Classic, including Arrogate, West Coast and Gun Runner. Violette indicated all the speed could compromise Diversify’s own front-end running style.

“We did rate him one race where it worked out and we won, but that was a different kettle of fish and it certainly isn’t his ‘A’ game,” Violette said. “His ‘A’ game is being on the lead. He’s very brave and he gets into a terrific rhythm and he can keep doing it and doing it.

“The pace (in the Breeders’ Cup Classic) will be faster. There’ll be company, whether we end up on the lead (or not). It was a perfect spot in the Gold Cup, and certainly he’s an improving horse. We don’t want to do anything that is in any way going to regress his move forward.

“Ralph and Lauren have made it very clear that they’re interested having this gelding around for another couple of years,” he noted. “So, there is no pressure to go out there. We’re not going out there to go ankle deep on the seashore and have some great seafood. If we don’t think we can win it, we won’t do it. We’ll see how everyone else breezes and kind of handicap a bit, but there are options and certainly 2018 is the big option and we need to be around for that.

“No one likes to waste races. He doesn’t need to go out there and run his eyeballs out, be fifth, exhausted and need the rest of the year off.”

Violette said Diversify has a spot reserved on a San Diego-bound flight on Tuesday should they decide to make the trip. Entries for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships will be taken on Monday.

“If there are defections somewhere along the way, that would encourage me to go,” Violette said. “It’s a deep, deep race. It’s not a two-horse race, with maybe a shot with a third horse. It’s four, five, six deep.

In other Breeders’ Cup news:

Imperative is out of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) with a pelvic fracture.

“He’s the most majestic horse, and today when he went out there he had his head held high and was feeling good. A mile into the jog he started not wanting to go, so we brought him back to the barn. It seemed to be his left hind and I thought maybe he has an abscess,” trainer Bob Hess Jr. explained to the Paulick Report.

“Ten minutes later he was not handling things well up high. The vet ultrasounded him and said he has a pelvis issue – what we think is a hairline fracture. They can be fatal if you really break it big time, but this one appears to be pretty minor.

“He’ll be with us for a month,” the trainer added. “We can’t even let him lie down for a week, then he’ll have stall rest for a month. After that he’ll get turned out. He’ll be eight next year, so we’ll have to wait and see how he’s doing. (Owner) Ron (Paolucci) will do right by the horse.”

Multiple Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Gun Runner arrived at Del Mar on Friday from Santa Anita Park and galloped a mile over the track Saturday morning.

Assistant trainer Scott Blasi indicated a final half-mile move at Del Mar on Monday at 6:30 a.m. (PT) is possible for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) contender, pending approval from trainer Steve Asmussen.