GoldMark Farm’s Cross Traffic will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on Sept. 28 at Belmont Park, trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed on Wednesday.
An impressive front-running winner of the Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap on August 3 at Saratoga, Cross Traffic also was being considered for Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward.
The Whitney and Woodward are run at 1 1/8 miles, while the Jockey Club Gold Cup is contested at 1 ¼ miles, the same distance as the Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 2 at Santa Anita, which is Pletcher’s primary goal for the 4-year-old son of Unbridled’s Song.
“It was a tough decision, but we’re trying to figure out the best way to get to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Pletcher. “We felt like bypassing [the Woodward] and getting a mile and a quarter race five weeks out from the Breeders’ Cup Classic puts us in a better position than running a mile and an eighth nine weeks out, and then possibly needing to run back in the Jockey Club, as well. It was a tough call, but that’s kind of what it came down to.”
The Whitney was the longest race to date for Cross Traffic, who has posted four consecutive triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. Prior to the Whitney (108), his first Grade 1 win, Cross Traffic ran second in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap (110) and Grade 3 Westchester (116), beaten a nose and a head, respectively. He earned a 105 for an optional claiming win in March at Gulfstream Park.
NYRA photo by Courtney Heeney