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Ron the Greek and Jose Lezcano strike a pose after winning the 2013 Jockey Club Gold Cup (I).

Ron the Greek and Jose Lezcano strike a pose after winning the 2013 Jockey Club Gold Cup (I).

Ron the Greek

Ron the Greek

Flat Out

Flat Out

Kentucky Derby winner Orb

Kentucky Derby winner Orb

Breeders’ Cup Classic Profile #5: Ron the Greek

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Basics:

(Full Mandate x Flambe’, by Fortunate Prospect)

  • Trainer: Bill Mott
  • Jockey: Jose Lezcano
  • Owned by: Brous Stable, Wachtel Stable, Hammer, Jack T. and Barber, Gary
  • Career Record: 29:9-5-3
  • Earnings: $2,704,691

Vital Stats:

  • 2013 Record: 7:2-0-2
  • 2013 accomplishments: G1 winner at 10 furlongs (Jockey Club Gold Cup)
  • Santa Anita record: 3:1-0-0
  • Win and You’re In winner - Jockey Club Gold Cup
  • TrueNicks rating: N/A
  • Dosage Index: 3.00
  • Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2013: 123 (unchanged from last year)
  • Won last prep [Jockey Club Gold Cup by 6 3/4 lengths]
  • Aims to be the oldest horse to win the Classic at age 6

Summary: Occasionally down but never out, Ron the Greek flourished last year, truly coming into his own as an older horse transferred into the tutelage of Classic-winning trainer Bill Mott. This year however, “Ron Ron” was the victim of many a setback that some attributed to old age or poor overall form. Not to be taken lightly, Ron lit up the board in his last start, taking the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup— historically one of the most important preps for the Breeders’ Cup Classic— by a commanding 6 3/4 lengths in dazzling time.

Prep Schedule: 4th in last year’s Classic, Ron the Greek stomped the others flat in the sloppy-sealed Sunshine Millions Classic, taking the Florida-bred stake by 11 1/4 lengths. 6 weeks later, he attempted to win back-to-back Santa Anita Handicaps (I) but came up short to Game On Dude, running 4th behind some 9 1/4 lengths after racing wide throughout. He lost again next out to the Dude, both shipping to the Charles Town Classic (II), but this time came within a half length of Dude and a nose from Clubhouse Ride in a photo. He darted off next to defend his Stephen Foster (I) at Churchill but missed again, cutting into the inside too late to catch Fort Larned, placing 3rd by 10 1/4 lengths. Taking another 6 week break, Ron shipped out to Saratoga to run in the Whitney (I), but flattened while running an inside trip to finish 4th behind some 4 lengths away from Cross Traffic. Sentenced to mud in the Woodward (I), he again faltered with a rail trip to finish 4th beaten some 7 lengths. Returning to Belmont, he tracked closer to the pace and made a run on the rail successfully, winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup by 6 3/4 lengths.

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Physique: Well-muscled and of sturdy stature, Ron the Greek has one of the nicest shoulders in the group and is the quintessential classic horse: there’s not feathery fine bone in his body, he’s made to go long and hard. He’s got a nice set of back legs for that pushing closing power, but I’m not sure how refined he currently is for that strategy coming into the Classic.

Pedigree: Sire Full Mandate is by classic superhorse sire A.P. Indy and out of a Deputy Minister daughter who won G1 races such as the Spinster and John L Morris Handicap at Saratoga. Clear Mandate is also the dam of recent Hopeful Stakes-winning juvenile Strong Mandate, so bonus points to her. On the bottom, Ron the Greek’s dam Flamebe’ is fairly ordinary with no other major progeny and traces back twice to Northern Dancer. Big picture: lots of Northern Dancer, Native Dancer, and Bold Ruler.

Running Style: Off-the-pace, may not be a deep closer anymore

Pros: His Jockey Club Gold Cup win announced that he is still that classy G1 winner he was last year under the right trip. While the runner-up in that race gave up ground, Ron the Greek was slightly more disadvantaged having to come between horses and ride the rail to shake clear. We already know he’s good with Santa Anita, having won the 10-furlong Santa Anita Handicap (I) there last year, and being a late mover in a Classic amped with speed.

Cons: Was the JCGC a fluke? The rail was on fire all day that day and supported early speed, which Ron flashed being closer up than usual that day.

Final Word: Always a tough horse to pinpoint form-wise, Ron looked great in easily (and happily) winning the JCGC last out over a classy group. He is rarely does worse than 4th and whether or not you’re a believer in his current G1-winning form, he’s a must-have in the exotics.

Palace Malice & Mike Smith ran second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (I)

Palace Malice & Mike Smith ran second in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (I)

Post-Jockey Club Gold Cup (I) Orb

Post-Jockey Club Gold Cup (I) Orb

"They’re coming into the final furlong now and here is Ron the Greek who is bursting away from the field, pulling away here… in a huge upset, 21-1! And he ran huge today!”

"They’re coming into the final furlong now and here is Ron the Greek who is bursting away from the field, pulling away here… in a huge upset, 21-1! And he ran huge today!”

Cross Traffic

Cross Traffic

It Was a Super-b Saturday

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Byline: The day on which I visited Belmont Park again— this time, driving all by myself for the first time— to see some mega superstars of racing, meet some cool Tumblr peeps, and photograph ponies with a professional-grade lens. All photos are mine unless noted.

Ever since reading Man o’ War when I was kid— the original source of my interest in horse racing— I’ve wanted to see a running of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (I). The story made it sound like this great championship race of epic proportion and prestige, although yes I’m aware Man o’ War basically took it in a walkover. I swore I would this year when I had to miss last year’s “Super Saturday” card at Belmont Park, and this past Saturday I’m pleased to say I followed through on that promise. It all paid off in one of my favorite racetrack excursions in my third visit to Old Sandy.

I had built the whole month of September up to going to Super Saturday. The major motivation to was not only the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but a string of great races that would lead to six horses going to the Breeders’ Cup and of course, my first (and perhaps last) sighting of the great Royal Delta and some personal favorites like Hymn Book and Little Mike. The obsessive gearhead within pressed me to try renting a lens for the first time in a day of many firsts— including my first solo excursion to Belmont which includes DRIVING THERE THROUGH METRO-AREA NEW YORK. Nothing freaks me out more than driving through congested traffic on roads I’m not familiar with!

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Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.


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