October 21, 2021

Happy Saver, Max Player tops draws in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Happy Saver
Happy Saver (inside) wins the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Coglianese Photos/Joe Labozzetta)

$1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) – Race 12 (6:46 p.m. ET)

One of Thoroughbred racing’s most prestigious races, Saturday’s 103rd running of the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) will be held at Saratoga for the first time. The 1 1/4-mile race serves as “Win & You’re In” for the Nov. 6 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Del Mar.

Happy Saver, who edged the now-sidelined Mystic Guide in last year’s Gold Cup at Belmont Park, will make a title defense in the six-horse field. He is looking to rebound after sustaining his first career setback in the July 3 Suburban S. (G2). Max Player is also a major player after posting an 11-1 upset in the Suburban.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Happy Saver has won 5-of-6 career starts, including a four-length allowance romp at Saratoga last year, and the Super Saver colt may not have cared for the wet track when recording a non-threatening third in the Suburban. The chestnut four-year-old should be pressing the pace with regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr.

Max Player showed more tactical speed in the Suburban, racing up close before finishing determinedly for a neck decision, and the improving four-year-old colt ran well at Saratoga when recording a third in the 2020 Travers (G1). Ricardo Santana Jr. has the call on the son of Honor Code.

Forza Di Oro returns to stakes competition for Bill Mott following a three-length allowance triumph on July 21. Winner of the November’s Discovery (G3) two back, the four-year-old enters the class check with a three-race win streak. Junior Alvarado rides. Grade 3 scorer Night Ops, second to Art Collector in the Aug. 6 Alydar S. at Saratoga, will be running late for Brad Cox. The five-year-old horse exits four consecutive runner-up finishes versus stakes foes, and Manny Franco has the call.

Completing the field are Grade 2 winner Chess Chief and multiple restricted stakes victor Forewarned.

$250,000 Prioress S. (G2) – Race 5 (2:47 p.m. ET)

After a runner-up finish in the Aug. 7 Test S. (G1), Souper Sensational will be the one to beat in the $250,000 Prioress (G2). Six three-year-old fillies will square off in the six-furlong race on the main track.

Souper Sensational rallied to a 3 1/4-length score over a nice field in the Victory Ride (G3) at Belmont Park two back, and the Mark Casse-trained Curlin filly is the lone graded stakes winner in the field. Santana rides the chestnut.

Oxana will make her stakes debut after rolling by double-digit margins in a pair of starts at Parx, recording frontrunning wins over maiden and entry-level allowance rivals. Irad Ortiz takes over the reins on the Pennsylvania-bred Uptowncharlybrown filly for trainer Timothy Hills.

Other runners include Monmouth Oaks (G3) runner-up Edie Meeny Miny Mo and last-out Monmouth stakes winner Cilla.