No, the Jockey Club Gold Cup is not becoming a two-mile stamina challenge once again, but today’s Birdstone at Saratoga will have to do at a mile and three-quarters. For the math-challenged, that’s 14 furlongs in all.
The two favorites, Marconi (8-5) and Rocketry (9-5) are proven at the trip and Marconi enjoys a big match-up edge between the two. So why did I settle on Rocketry?
Both are taking a significant drop in class but we believe that the outside slip will give Rocketry’s rider a tactical advantage, i.e., more options off the break, and he is a Grade 2 winner at this trip whereas Marconi is unproven.
Further, he gets two pounds from the nominal favorite, his last two were were beneath Rosario, who sticks here but most significantly, the blinkers experiment which failed so miserably last time are off today.
Unless he goes favorite at post time–and there are no significant number of late scratches–there’s value in trying to beat Marconi. Taking Rocketry to win, Alice, and boxing an exacta with price shot Patch (10-1).
YESTERDAY: Joel might have been a tad overconfident but taking nothing away from the winner. Saguaro Row was second best.