As Diversify rounded the final sweeping turn at Belmont Park in Saturday’s $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), Rodney Paine, perched on a platform above the finish line, started yelling.
“Come on, Big D!” he exhorted. “Dig in! Dig in, Big D!”
And dig in did the four-year-old son of Bellamy Road. Having led largely unchallenged for every step of the 10-furlong race after breaking from post 1, Diversify and Irad Ortiz Jr. had plenty left to hold off late bids by Pavel and Keen Ice to win by a length.
“Yes!” cried Paine, an exercise rider for trainer Rick Violette, and Diversify’s regular rider in the morning. “Yes!”
A box of tissue wouldn’t have been out of place in the Belmont winner’s circle: tears of joy filled Paine’s eyes, as well as those of Violette’s assistant Melissa Cohen and owner Ralph M. Evans, mixing with tears of relief, and of delayed emotion.
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