News and STORIES

Mystic Guide, Happy Saver Face Off in Jockey Club Gold Cup

Author: Don Mckee
Published: Thursday October 08, 2020
Trainers Michael Stidham and Todd Pletcher were forced to decide between the Oct. 3 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, the $1 million final leg of the Triple Crown series, or the Oct. 10, $250,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 1/4 miles for older horses. The two races are traditionally four months apart, but schedule changes brought on by COVID-19 this year made them just one week apart. 

Both of the races award entry into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) as part of the “Win and You’re In” qualifying series. 

Both of the trainers opted for the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Stidham will enter Mystic Guide, and Pletcher will send in the unbeaten Happy Saver to run among the field of five. Also showing up for the race at Belmont Park will be Juddmonte Farms’ Tacitus.

Stidham and Mystic Guide

Despite the Jockey Gold Cup only offering a quarter of the Preakness purse, Stidham decided on the event due to a longer distance at the racetrack and sweeping turns. He saw these as better options for Mystic Guide, a grade 2-winning late runner. 

"We felt like the Jockey Club, from a distance standpoint and a track standpoint, suits our horse better than the Preakness. Pimlico has tighter turns and is biased toward a horse who can be close around the turns. Our horse is more of a come-from-behind type who makes a long run and comes from off the pace," Stidham said. "Win, lose or draw in the Gold Cup, we feel we're making the right decision by running there."

The results of the Preakness reassured Stidham about his decision.

Mystic Guide is a homebred from Godolphin and a son of Ghostzapper. He is coming into the race off a victory in the Sept. 5 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) for three-year-olds at Saratoga Race Course. That event took place the same day as the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) at Churchill Downs. 

He moved up from last in a field of six and finished three-quarters-of-a-length in front of Liveyourbeastlife and Jesus’ Team.

Liveyourbeastlife finished second by three-quarters-of-a-length over Jesus’ Team and 11th and last at 34-1 in the Preakness. Jesus’ Team finished third at 40-1, 10 lengths behind the winner Swiss Skydiver.

"I don't think we would have had much of a chance in the Preakness," Stidham said.

Mystic Guide is out of the Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Music Note, and he has won two of five career starts, including third in the Peter Pan Stakes (G3).

Wertheimer and Frere’s homebred Happy Saver is coming into the race with a 3-for-3 record. His unveiling took place June 20 at Belmont Park on the undercard of Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1). 

Last time out, the Super Saver colt won the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park on debut.

"He's a lightly raced 3-year-old going up against older horses, but he's done everything that we've asked of him so far," Pletcher said. "He just had some baby setbacks. We almost had him ready to run here last fall, but we had to give him a break. It just took him a little while to get ready, but he's certainly made up a lot of ground in a short period of time." 


The multiple Grade 2 winner Tacitus will be looking to take his first grade 1 win in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. The 4-year-old son of Tapit finished third in last year’s Jockey Gold Cup. 

He finished second in the Belmont Stakes, Runhappy Travers Stakes (G2), and Woodward Handicap (G1), which was his last start. He also took third in the Kentucky Derby. 

Tacitus’ career record includes four wins, four seconds, and two thirds from 13 outings.