By the final furlong of the two-mile Belmont Gold Cup Invitational (G2), it was obvious that either Kentucky-based Arklow up the rail or French invader Amade was going to win the $400,000 event at Belmont Park, and despite drifting toward the outside rail in the final sixteenth of a mile, Amade was able to get the better of favored Arklow.
“He was cruising and gave a good acceleration when I asked him,” jockey Flavien Prat said of Amade. “I whipped him left late and he ducked out, but I don’t think he likes to be down inside. I knew Arklow was down inside so I just wanted a clean run, and he responded.”
Alessandro Botti trains Amade for a partnership comprised of the Austrailan OTI Racing, Laurent Dassault and Elisa Berte. Shayne Driscoll, general manager manager of OTI, said that the Melbourne Cup (G1) is the goal for the five-year-old Casamento gelding.
“(Botti) had this race picked out, so once we got the invitation, we decided to come along for the ride,” Driscoll said of shipping the Irish-bred Amade to America by way of France. “We’ve had some wins in America before, but this is our first stakes victory here.”
Amade had won five in a row before a runner-up finish in a two-mile all weather race in April at Lingfield, and his previous two victories were both at the Gold Cup’s two-mile distance, which Amade completed in 3:19.95.
Arklow received a ground-saving trip throughout most of the two miles of the Belmont Gold Cup with a little shuffling on the backstretch the second time around. He shook loose turning for home but was unable to hold off Amade.
“I got through on the inside, but the winner already had the momentum, and he was so far outside that we never saw him until late,” said Arklow’s rider Florent Geroux, who made it a French jockey exacta. “When Arklow saw Amade it was like ‘OK, I’m going,’ but it was a little too late. He had no problems with the distance and galloped out in front of everybody.”
The 1-2 finishers at the end mostly raced midpack early, with Mootasadir setting a leisurely pace of 2:09.44 for 1 1/4 miles before fading to seventh. Highland Sky finished third at 28-1.