The regally-bred Tacitus, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott for owner-breeder Juddmonte Farms, arrived at Belmont Park from his Saratoga Race Course base on Tuesday to finalize preparations for his start in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Saturday's lucrative Jockey Club Gold Cup Day card features four graded stakes, including two Breeders' Cup Win and You're In events with the Jockey Club Gold Cup offering a berth in the Grade 1, $6 million Classic and the Grade 1, $300,000 Vosburgh providing a berth in the Grade 1, $2 million Sprint, both on Saturday, November 2 at Santa Anita Park.
America's Day at the Races will present live national television coverage of Jockey Club Gold Cup Day at Belmont, which also features the Grade 2, $300,000 Beldame and Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim, from 2:30-6:30 p.m. on FS2 with regional coverage airing on MSG Networks from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
Mott said the Tapit grey, out of 2014 Eclipse Award-winning older mare Close Hatches, has trained well out of his strong second to Jockey Club Gold Cup rival Code of Honor on August 24 in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers.
“I'm happy with him. We think he looks good,” said Mott. “He arrived here at Belmont on Tuesday and has trained Wednesday and today.”
Tacitus has breezed three times following the Travers, including a swift four furlongs in 48.49 seconds on September 15 on the Oklahoma training track.
Tacitus boasts a record of 3-3-1 from eight starts led by scores in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets. The talented colt competed in two-thirds of the Triple Crown where he was placed third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and rallied for second in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
A compact field of five for the 1 1/4-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup includes Grade 1-winners Code of Honor, Vino Rosso and Preservationist along with the streaking Olympic Village.
Tacitus, who used a closing style in his graded wins, was forwardly placed in the Travers with the addition of blinkers. He will keep the blinkers on for Saturday's test versus older horses and Mott said he didn't mind the small field and that a return to Belmont could be beneficial.
“You know, I'd rather try to outrun four than 14,” said Mott. “He's run well at Tampa. He's run well at Aqueduct. So, I'm not sure if it will make a big difference one way or another, but he's a big horse and the big, sweeping turns certainly aren't going to hurt him.”
Mott said China Horse Club International, WinStar Farm, and Head of Plains Partners' Yoshida, a Grade 1 winner on dirt and turf, will train up to the Breeders' Cup Classic.
“He'll go straight to the Breeders' Cup. I think he'll run good fresh,” said Mott.
Last year, Yoshida captured the Grade 1 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets to go along with a victory in the Grade 1 Old Forester Turf Classic at Churchill Downs.
Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, R. A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing's Channel Maker, a multiple Grade-1 winning son of English Channel, will look to defend his title in the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on October 5 at Belmont.
“He's doing great. We're going to try and win another one with him,” said Mott.
Channel Maker, bred in Ontario by the Tall Oaks Farm of Ivan Dalos, has competed in the past two renewals of the 1 1/2-mile turf test finishing sixth in 2017 and romping to a 4 1/2-length front-running score last year.
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