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NEW YORK (AP) — Wicked Strong, V.E. Day and Tonalist, winners of the top 3-year-old stakes in New York, step up to face older runners Saturday in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
At stake: a starting spot in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 1 at Santa Anita. The Jockey Cup Gold Cup is a "Win and You're In" race, insuring the victor a fees-paid berth in the richest race in North America.
The Gold Cup is the main event on a card featuring six stakes worth a combined $3.4 million.
Wicked Strong, winner of the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct in April, is the 3-1 favorite from post No. 3 for trainer Jimmy Jerkens, who also sends out V. E. Day at 5-1.
This is a rematch of Travers Stakes at Saratoga, where V.E. Day beat Wicked Strong by a nose.
"I realized inside the eighth pole it was going to be between our two horses," Jerkens said. "I thought Wicked Strong was going to hold on, but V.E. Day surged in the last three jumps and nailed him right on the wire."
Tonalist, the Belmont Stakes winner, completes the trio of talented 3-year-olds. He was third in the Travers and is 4-1 on the Jockey Club morning line.
Moreno, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Eric Guillot, is the top older runner in the field as the 7-2 second choice. The winner of the Whitney Stakes at Saratoga, Moreno has post No. 11 in the 12-horse field going 1 1-4 miles.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup field, in post position order with odds: Micromanage, 20-1; Last Gunfighter, 20-1; Wicked Strong, 3-1; Zivo, 6-1; Prayer for Relief, 15-1; Long River, 30-1; Speak Logistics, 50-1; Tonalist, 4-1; Stephanoatsee, 20-1; Moreno, 7-2; and Big Cazanova, 20-1.