Jockey Club Gold Cup Predictions, Expert Picks, Odds (Saratoga)

Jockey Club Gold Cup Predictions

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Happy Saver (8/5)

Jockey Club Gold Cup Predictions, Post Position and Odds

Check out our predictions and odds for the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 FORZA DI ORO 5/2
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J Alvarado W Mott
2 MAX PLAYER 5/2
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R Santana Jr S Asmussen
3 CHESS CHIEF 12/1
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L Saez D Stewart
4 HAPPY SAVER 8/5
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I Ortiz Jr T Pletcher
5 NIGHT OPS 6/1
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M Franco B Cox
6 FOREWARNED 20/1
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S Leon U St. Lewis

Led by the defending champion, Happy Saver, a field of six older males will battle it out for the top prize in the $1 million, Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Saturday at Saratoga.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Happy Saver comes into this year’s edition, which has moved to the Spa from its traditional spot at Belmont Park, off his first career loss, finishing third in a sloppy edition of the Grade 2 Suburban. A winner of a 5-of-6 lifetime, the chestnut son of Super Saver won his only start at Saratoga when he rallied to victory in an allowance race last year in his second career start.

Max Player got the best of Happy Saver last time when he upset both him and Mystic Guide in the 10 furlongs Suburban. A son of Honor Code, it was his first victory since winning the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct 17 months earlier. He’s also run only once before at Saratoga, finishing a well-beaten third in last year’s Grade 1 Travers.

Forza Di Oro comes into Saturday’s big test on a roll, having won three in a row, although only one of those has come this year. The Bill Mott-trained 4-year-old returned from an 8-month layoff to easily account for a muddy allowance race on July 21 in what was his first lifetime start at Saratoga.

To be run on the main track at 1 ¼ miles, the Jockey Club Gold Cup is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, which will be run at the same distance on November 6 at Del Mar.

Best Bets for the Jockey Club Gold Cup

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$50 Win – Happy Saver = $50

Top Pick:

Happy Saver (8/5)

Bet on Happy Saver, Here!

How to Watch the Jockey Club Gold Cup

Jockey Club Gold Cup Information
Race Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade 1)
Location Saratoga
Time Saturday, September 4 — 6:46 pm Eastern time
How to Watch Fox Sports 1
Purse $1,000,000

Race Analysis

Happy Saver

Despite only running twice this year, and six times overall, this Wertheimer Et Frere homebred has proven himself to be a horse of class. The defending champion probably needed that last one where he was wide on a sloppy track. Still, he was running well down the lane, as he always does. Given that experience, I look forward to a better performance from him this time. He’s got tactical speed in a race with little early pace, he’s won at the track, and he’s handled this distance. The son of Super Saver will probably be the favorite, but I like him best. He is the top pick to return to his winning ways.

Max Player

It was a long spell between drinks for this son of Honor Code, having ended a nearly year and a half losing streak with a surprise win in the Grade 2 Suburban last time. It looks like the wet track helped, as he’s now 2-for-2 on sloppy tracks. With a dry track forecast for Saturday, the Steve Asmussen-trained runner will need to prove he can beat good horses on a fast track. Having said that he can certainly handle the distance and has kept good company during his career. In the Suburban, he was closer to the early pace than ever before. If he can do that again, he likely has a better chance. One of the main threats to the top pick, but I like him only third best.

Forza Di Oro

A winner of the Grade 3 Discovery in impressive fashion late last season, it took some time for this son of Speightstown to reappear, but when he did he certainly looked good in winning a Saratoga allowance six weeks ago. Geared down late in that one, his last two races, albeit seven months apart, make him look like a horse ready for his first try in Grade 1 racing. Like Happy Saver, he has enough tactical speed to be involved early, if not on the early lead. This will be a step up in class, but it’s not exactly a strong Grade 1 either. He looks like the most likely horse to beat Happy Saver.

Night Ops

On the one hand, this Brad Cox-trained son of Warrior’s Reward is winless in six starts this year, but on the other hand, he has run well in every single outing with four seconds and two-thirds in nothing but stakes races. This will be new territory, though, for the 5-year-old who has never before gone 1 ¼ mile and has never run in a Grade 1 race. His form is good enough to believe he can be competitive once again, but given the move up in class and in distance, I believe he will be relegated to another board-hitting finish.

Chess Chief

After scoring in the Grade 2 New Orleans Classic in March, this son of Into Mischief has not sniffed the winner’s circle in three subsequent starts, the last of which came on the turf. Without much pace in here, it makes it tougher for him to uncork his late run. Perhaps he is capable of hitting the board in this weak edition of the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but I expect the Dallas Stewart trainee to come up short down the stretch against these at 10 furlongs.

Forewarned

This veteran runner has done his best racing in his native Ohio, where he has scored his only stakes wins. In fact, he is winless in eight starts this year, while only finishing in the money when second twice in Statebred stakes races at Belterra Park and Thistledown. He’s tried graded stakes company in New York before with no success, and I don’t expect that trend to change on Saturday.

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]