Saturday saw the final two major prep races for the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic: the Awesome Again was run at Santa Anita Park in southern California, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in New York. Both are “Win and You’re In” races, guaranteeing a berth in the Classic, along with paid fees and travel expenses for the winners. [Disclosure: the Breeders’ Cup is a freelance client of mine.]
The Jockey Club Gold Cup pitted a trio of 3-year-olds that have won New York’s biggest races this year against the 4-year-old Moreno, winner of the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga in August (also a “Win and You’re In” race). Belmont Stakes winner Tonalist went off the favorite, with Grade I Wood Memorial winner and Grade I Travers Stakes runner-up Wicked Strong a close second choice.
As the field of 11 horses entered the far turn, jockey Junior Alvarado aboard Moreno cut to the rail, directly into the path of Wicked Strong and Rajiv Maragh, causing the horse to stumble and the jockey to become unseated, flying into the air and the path of oncoming horses as he fell. Miraculously, Maragh suffered only a badly broken arm; by Saturday night, he was tweeting from his hospital bed.
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Photo credit of Tonalist and Joel Rosario: NYRA/Adam Coglianese