Ron the Greek pulled a 21-1 upset Saturday in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont Park in New York.
Shooting through an opening on the rail at the top of the stretch, Ron the Greek sprinted away from Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice to a 6¾-length victory.
Ron the Greek had been mired in a 1-for-9 slump.
Jose Lezcano was aboard for Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who also finished third in the race with Flat Out, winner of the last two renewals of this race.
The Jockey Club Gold Cup topped a stellar card that included five other stakes races, all with implications for the Breeders’ Cup Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita. Ron the Greek got a spot in the $5 million Classic.
Ron the Greek was an afterthought in a strong lineup that included Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Cross Traffic, winner of the Whitney Invitational.
Lezcano gave the 6-year-old a perfect trip for his ninth win in 29 starts in 1 minute 59.70 seconds 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, and Flat Out paid $2.50 to show.
Princess of Sylmar pulled an upset in the $400,000 Beldame Invitational, beating 1-5 favorite Royal Delta by 2 lengths.
Trainer Todd Pletcher won when Graydar scored a victory in the $400,000 Kelso Handicap, holding off Brujo de Olleros by three-quarters of a length. Edgar Prado guided the 4-year-old gray colt to his fifth win in six starts.
Trainer Doug O'Neill shipped in Private Zone from California for a win by a neck over Justin Phillip in the $400,000 Vosburgh Invitational. Martin Pedroza was aboard.
Laughing beat Tannery by a half-length in the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational for fillies and mares on the turf.
Little Mike, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, got his first win since then in the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic. Mike Smith was aboard the 6-year-old gelding.
Santa Anita — Mucho Macho Man tuned up for the Breeders’ Cup, winning the $250,000 Awesome Again Stakes by 4¼ lengths in Arcadia, Calif.
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens earned back-to-back Grade 1 wins aboard Mucho Macho Man and Beholder in the Zenyatta Stakes, two of the five Grade 1 races with Breeders’ implications at the host track for the championships.
Mucho Macho Man was runner-up in last year’s BC Classic. The 5-year-old Florida-bred ran 1⅓ miles in 1:48.30 and paid $5.20, $3.20, and $2.80 as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 10.
Tiz Flirtatious won the $250,000 Rodeo Drive Stakes by a head.
In the $250,000 Chandelier Stakes for 2-year-old fillies, Secret Compass edged She’s a Tiger to win by a head.
Bond Holder, a 10-1 shot ridden by Mario Gutierrez, won by 2¼ lengths in the $250,000 FrontRunner Stakes.