Lauren Evans and Ralph M. Evans' multiple Grade 1 winner Diversify wrapped up his major preparations for his title defense in the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park with a five-furlong breeze Friday morning, covering the distance in 58.97 seconds, his second bullet work in as many weeks.
Diversify worked solo under jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. over the main track shortly after the renovation break. The breeze was the fastest of 16 at the distance. NYRA clockers caught the 5-year-old New York-bred gelding by Bellamy Road galloping out six furlongs in 1:12 4/5.
Friday's move was the fourth work for Diversify, the expected favorite for the 1 ¼-mile Breeders' Cup Classic qualifier on Super Saturday, September 29, since recording a 3 ½-length victory in the Grade 1 Whitney on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course. Last Friday, Diversify breezed five furlongs in a bullet 58.88 seconds, his first appearance on the Belmont work tab since shipping from Saratoga earlier this month for trainer Rick Violette, Jr.
“It was another great breeze,” said Violette's assistant Melissa Cohen. “We were planning on going a little slower, but he was very happy to do what he did and he couldn't have done it any easier. We're happy, he came back happy, barely blowing a match. He's happy, relaxed.
“It was almost an exact replica of last week, so I think he's telling us he's ready,” she added. “All systems go.”
Diversify is coming into the Gold Cup off three straight wins, including the one-mile Commentator for New York-breds in May and the Grade 2 Suburban at 1 ¼ miles on July 7 prior to the Whitney. Last year, he won a pair of New York-bred stakes, capped by an 11 ½-length romp in the Evan Shipman at Saratoga, and successfully stretched out to 1 ¼ miles for the first time with a gutsy one-length victory in the 2017 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Cohen said Diversify will jog Saturday morning and walk Sunday as part of his normal post-work routine.
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