Creation Of Player’s Pick 5, Thrilling Renewal Of Hollywood Gold Cup Among Highlights Of Spring/Summer Meet

Racing News
Posted 07.17.11 at 6:52

First Dude and jockey Martin Garcia, outside, nose out Game On Dude (Chantal Sutherland), inside, and Twirling Candy (Joel Rosario), center, (obscured), to win the Hollywood Gold Cup. © Benoit Phoro

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 17, 2011) — The creation of the Player’s Pick 5, a thrilling finish in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup and the largest Friday night crowd in more than 10 years were the highlights of the Spring/Summer meet at Hollywood Park. The 54-day season concluded Sunday.

A 50-cent minimum bet with a California low takeout rate of 14%, the Player’s Pick 5 debuted April 21. Available on the first five races daily, the wager quickly grew popular. The average daily handle for the meet exceeded $200,000. A $70 investment for one player July 9 led to a record payout of $157,395.

Trainer Bob Baffert finished 1-2 in the Gold Cup – a Grade I seen by a national television audience via ESPN – with First Dude defeating Game On Dude by a nose with favorite Twirling Candy a neck back in third. It was the first time a trainer had taken the first two spots in Hollywood Park’s signature race since Bobby Frankel with Aptitude and Skimming in 2001.

The win was the third in four starts for First Dude since joining Baffert’s barn. The Gold Cup was a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’’ Challenge event, so First Dude earned a fees-paid spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs, plus a $10,000 travel allowance.

A crowd of 20,206 attended July 8, an evening the popular local reggae band Rebelution performed a post race concert at the North Park.

Blind Luck, the top older female in the country, rallied from last to win the Grade I Vanity Handicap June 18 and was honored as Horse of the Meet in the annual media poll.

Cambina and Nereid finished in a dead heat in the $250,000 American Oaks July 16, the first dead heat in a Grade I at Hollywood Park since the Richard Mandella trained pair of Beautiful Melody and Reluctant Guest finished on even terms in the 1990 Beverly Hills Handicap.

Along with First Dude, Courageous Cat and Irish Gypsy earned Breeders’ Cup berths – in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile and Filly and Mare Sprint, respectively – with wins in the Shoemaker Mile and the A Gleam Handicap. Courageous Cat outfinished Caracortado in the Shoemaker while Irish Gypsy edged Ultra Blend in the A Gleam.

La Canada Stables topped the owners’ standings in both victories (16) and earnings ($389,142). This was the second consecutive year La Canada had the most wins.

Jockey Joel Rosario defended his crown with 64 winners, seven more than runner-up Rafael Bejarano. Rosario has won five of the last six meets at Hollywood Park. His lone miss was the 2010 Oak Tree season when he finished one winner (35-34) behind Bejarano.

Baffert won his first Spring/Summer title, finishing with 36 victories. The eighth trainer to win at least 500 races at Hollywood Park – he reached the milestone when Glamorista won July 4 – Baffert also was tops in stakes victories with eight.

The training championship was the fourth at Hollywood Park for the Hall of Famer. Baffert also led Oak Tree in 2010 and the Autumn meets in 1999 and 2001.

Complete statistical figures for the Spring/Summer meet are being compiled and will be released within a few days.

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