Flat Out defends crown

JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP | PURSE: $1,000,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 1 | 1 1/4-Miles

Flat Out returned to the scene of his latest triumph Sept. 29 --almost a year ago to the day -- and won the $1 million TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park for a second time in a row.

Preston Stables' 6-year-old son of Flatter became the first back-to-back winner of the 1 1/4-mile event since Curlin took consecutive runnings in 2007-08, completing the distance in 2:01.44 while digging in to nip a determined Stay Thirsty by a head on the line. Fort Larned, the 5-2 favorite, finished third.

Flat Out had not won since taking the 2011 edition of the Gold Cup, but had been on the steady improve for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who took over training duties from Charles "Scooter" Dickey earlier in the year. He finished second in the Monmouth Cup in July and ran third in the Whitney Invitational Stakes (gr. I) last time out behind Fort Larned and stablemate Ron the Greek.

"It was huge; he was sitting on a big one," remarked Mott, who got his second victory on a day that featured five grade I races. "He trained well coming into it, he ran a great race today, the jockey rode him well, and things worked out. He loves the distance and hopefully we're on to the Breeders' Cup."

Earlier in the card, Mott's champion filly Royal Delta beat rival It's Tricky by 9 1/2 lengths in the Beldame Invitational Stakes.

Flat Out earned an automatic entry to the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park with the win. Last year he finished fifth in the Classic run at Churchill Downs.

Sent off at 7-2 under Joel Rosario, Flat Out returned $9.30, $5.60, and $4.00 while Stay Thirsty paid $10.80 and $6.70 and Fort Larned brought $4.