NEW YORK — Ron the Greek pulled a 21-1 upset on Saturday in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
Shooting through a huge opening on the rail at the top of stretch, Ron the Greek sprinted away from Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice, the Belmont Stakes winner, to a decisive 6¾-length victory.
Godolphin Racing’s Alpha, the 2012 Aiken-trained horse of the year, finished sixth.
It was a surprising return to form for Ron the Greek, a career winner of $2.7 million who was in a 1 for 9 slump.
“Every once in a while, he’ll throw one of these,” Hall of Famer trainer Bill Mott said. “I can’t determine when, but he did it today.”
Jose Lezcano was aboard for Mott, who also finished third with Flat Out, winner of the last two renewals of this race.
With the victory, Ron the Greek earned a spot in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Palace Malice, who earned $200,000 to increase his lifetime earnings to $1,481,135, will also point toward the Classic.
Lezcano gave Ron the Greek a perfect trip and the 6-year-old responded with his ninth win in 29 starts in 1:59.70 for the 1¼ miles on the fast track.
Ron the Greek paid $44, $17.40 and $7.20. Palace Malace returned $5 and $3.10 while Flat Out, uncoupled in the betting from Ron the Greek, paid $2.50 to show.
Vitoria Olimpica was fourth, followed by Last Gunfighter, Alpha, Cross Traffic and Kentucky Derby winner Orb.
BELDAME INVITATIONAL: Princess of Sylmar pulled an upset in the $400,000 race, beating 1-5 favorite Royal Delta by two lengths.
The leader of 3-year-old filly division with victories in Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama Stakes, Princess of Sylmar was the 2-1 second choice in her first race against older rivals.
Javier Castellano was aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher. The time was 1:47.93 for the 1 1-8 miles.