Proxy on Target for G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup

August 24, 2023

Proxy goes gate-to-wire in the Monmouth Cup (G3) July 22 (Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)

NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Godolphin’s Kentucky homebred Proxy, winner of the Grade 1 Clark in November at Churchill Downs, will headline next Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup. The 10-furlong test for 3-year-olds and up offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park.

The 5-year-old Tapit bay, out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Include mare Panty Raid, was last seen on July 22 posting a gate-to-wire score in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Monmouth Cup.

With Joel Rosario up, Proxy grinded through three-quarters in 1:12.05 and held a narrow head lead at the stretch call over Whelen Springs but drew clear with an eighth of a mile to run and won by 2 1/2-lengths. Whelen Springs exited that effort to win the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin at Monmouth.

Trainer Michael Stidham said the odds-on victory was an unorthodox one for the late-running Proxy.

“Going into the race, it looked like the type of field he was a bit superior in and the way the race set up we ended up on the lead, which was very surprising,” Stidham said. “There wasn’t much speed and Rosario didn’t want to take a chance of getting him shuffled back. We wound up on the lead, and turning for home, it looked like we were in trouble actually. By the eighth pole, he started to inch away and won it pretty easily in the end.

“It turned out to be a bit of a tough race for him, but he came out of it in good shape,” added Stidham. “He’s been doing very well. He’s had two works and we’ll work him again this weekend which will be his final work going into the Jockey Club.”

Proxy has banked in excess of $2 million through a record of 18-6-6-2. He hit the board in five graded stakes before making the grade with a prominent three-quarter length score over West Will Power in the nine-furlong Clark.

Proxy rallied from seventh to finish a close second to Stilleto Boy in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March ahead of a late rush to win the nine-furlong Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap by a head in April.

“He’s pretty baffling the way he runs. If the race isn’t loaded with speed where he gets shuffled back early, he’s able to maintain his position,” Stidham said. “But when they go really fast up front and he gets shuffled back, a lot of times it’s difficult for him to make up the ground.

“Although, in the Santa Anita Handicap that happened and he was able to almost get there – he came and made a late surge,” Stidham continued. “It’s quite quirky the way he runs, but hopefully things set up well and I think the mile and a quarter only helps our chances as it tends to be a bit of a slower pace early and a little bit more ground for him to make up ground when he needs to.”

Stidham finished second in the 2020 Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup with Godolphin homebred Mystic Guide, who went on to capture the Group 1 Dubai World Cup five months later at Meydan Racecourse.

“Getting horses like Proxy and Mystic Guide is every trainer’s dream come true. I can’t say enough about the opportunities that they’ve given me,” said Stidham regarding training for Godolphin.

Whether or not his talented bay horse returns for another season of racing will likely depend on how well he finishes up this campaign, but Stidham said he has appreciated the opportunity to watch Proxy develop over four seasons of racing.

“As a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old, he was a tall, narrowish type of colt. You could see he was a big kid that hadn’t grown up yet and now he’s an absolute picture,” Stidham said. “He’s such a big, pretty horse with big dapples all over him and very good conformation. He’s matured and developed both mentally and physically into the horse that we hoped he would be.”

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