The Grade I $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, which will be run for the 74th time Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park, is shaping up as a showcase for Horse of the Year candidate Game On Dude.
The defending champion, who is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, is likely to have only four rivals in the 1 ¼ mile race over Cushion Track. The probable opponents: Clubhouse Ride (trainer Craig Lewis, jockey Joe Talamo), Liaison (Baffert, Martin Garcia), Oilisblackgold (Craig Dollase, Edwin Maldonado) and Kettle Corn (John Sadler, Rafael Bejarano). Entries for the Gold Cup will be taken Wednesday.
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has the call again on Game On Dude. Smith is 4-for-4 since teaming with the 6-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again. Game On Dude has won 13 of 25 and earned $4,702,158. Three of his wins have come in four starts at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Owned by a partnership that includes baseball icon Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude is unbeaten in 2013 and enters the Gold Cup on a four-race win streak. He romped in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 2 before winning the Grade II, $1.5 million Charles Town Classic April 20 at Charles Town.
Game On Dude’s biggest challenge likely will come from Six S Stable and Niko Petralia’s Clubhouse Ride, who finished only a half-length behind Game On Dude when second at Charles Town. The 5-year-old Candy Ride horse was also a distant second behind Game On Dude in the Big `Cap and the Grade II San Antonio Stakes.
Clubhouse Ride ended a streak of five runner-up finishes in a row with a decisive victory in the Grade II Californian June 1. A first, second or third-place finish in the Gold Cup would push the chestnut over $1 million in earnings.
Though second as the even-money favorite in the Californian, Liaison has shown a fondness for Cushion Track and could pose an upset threat to stablemate Game On Dude. The 4-year-old Indian Charlie colt won the Grade I CashCall Futurity in 2011 and won the Grade II Mervyn LeRoy Handicap May 4 in his first start of the Spring/Summer meet.
Oilisblackgold and Kettle Corn, third and fourth, respectively in the Californian, both have similar styles and will try to rally from the back of the pack. Both had their final works June 29. Oilisblackgold went five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 while Kettle Corn drilled six furlongs in 1:14 2/5.
In conjunction with the Hollywood Gold Cup, there will be a special 75th Anniversary DVD giveaway – one per paid admission while supplies last.
The Gold Cup is part of a big week of racing, which begins Thursday with the Grade II $150,000 Swaps Stakes for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track highlighting the 4th of July card. Friday will mark the final night racing program at Betfair Hollywood Park. The first running of the
$70,000-added Lucie Manet Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1-4 miles on turf is the feature. First post is 7:05 p.m. and there will be a concert feature 80z All Stars after the races conclude.
The co-feature Saturday is the Grade II, $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile for older fillies and mares. The one-mile turf event is expected to attract, among others, Ran Jan Racing’s Schiaparelli, winner of the Great Lady M. Stakes May 26.
The racing week wraps Sunday, July 7. The feature attraction is the $70,000-added Le Cle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf.
LAFFIT PINCAY, JR. TO APPEAR AT ESCOGIENDO GANADORES
Legendary jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr. will be the special guest of co-hosts Michael Burns and George Ortuzar at the upcoming Escogiendo Ganadores (Picking Winners) session Saturday, July 6 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Pincay, the winningest rider in Hollywood Park history with 3,049 victories, will present the 10th annual Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award later in the day to fellow Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye.
During the Spanish-language seminar, Pincay, Burns and Ortuzar will discuss the Panamanian’s storied career, as well as the Betfair Hollywood Park card, including the Grade I, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup for older horses at 1 ¼ miles over Cushion Track and the Grade II, $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile for older fillies and mares on turf.
The all-time leader at Hollywood Park with 288 stakes wins, Pincay won the Gold Cup a record nine times. His final victory in the track’s signature race came aboard Sky Jack in 2002.
Escogiendo Ganadores will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Paddock Tote Board.
SHOEMAKER MILE, TRIPLE BEND WINNERS RETURN WELL
Obviously, who picked up his first Grade I victory in Saturday’s $300,000 Shoemaker Mile, and Centralinteligence, upset winner of the Grade I, $250,750 Triple Bend Handicap, were reported to be doing well Sunday morning.
Trainer Mike Mitchell said Obviously came back “in great shape” and reaffirmed the Irish bred’s ultimate goal of the Breeders’ Cup Mile, a race he finished third in last year.
Mitchell added that Camp Victory, who finished seventh in the Triple Bend, was no worse for wear while lamenting the lack of pace in the race.
Wilkinson and Lucayan, third and fifth in the Shoemaker, both came out of the race healthy, according to respective trainers Jeff Mullins and Neil Drysdale.
Trainer Peter Miller disclosed that Comma to the Top, second to Centralinteligence in the Triple Bend, cut himself in the race and came back with a two-inch gash on his right hind leg. The injury, while painful, is not considered serious.
Trainer Ron Ellis, first and fifth, respectively, in the Triple Bend with Centralintelligence and Rail Trip, relayed that both horses came out of the race fine.
Jimmy Creed, who ended up last as the 3-2 favorite after losing a shoe at the start, cooled out well and was in good shape Sunday morning, according to Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella.
John Shirreffs was pleased with Morning Line’s third-place finish in the Triple Bend, pointing out the 2012 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap winner likely needed the race. Morning Line came out of the race well, but future plans are undetermined.
TALAMO, BEJARANO IN EPIC STRUGGLE FOR TITLE
With nine days remaining in the Betfair Hollywood Park Spring/Summer meet, Joe Talamo and Rafael Bejarano are engaged in their own private match race for leading rider.
Talamo doubled Saturday with Obviously – a meet-high ninth stakes win – and Michailasheartlite.
Bejarano, the defending S/S champ, also won twice, taking the seventh with Sweet Lulu and the 10th with Brown Boss, so Talamo holds a 44-43 advantage entering Sunday.
Edwin Maldonado, the winner of the 2012 Autumn meet, is third with 36 victories.
In the battle for top trainer, John Sadler leads with 24 victories, followed by Mike Puype with 19. Hall of Famers Bob Baffert and Jerry Hollendorfer are tied with 16. Doug O’Neill and Peter Miller are deadlocked at 15.
CLOSING STRIDES —Jockey Gary Stevens will be at Monmouth Park July 6 to ride Sky Ring for fellow Hall of Famer and trainer D. Wayne Lukas in the Grade I, $500,000 United Nations Stakes, a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race……….Unusual Hottie and Et Tu Walker remain the only three-time winners at the meet. Comma to the Top failed in his attempt for a third win in the Triple Bend………Agent Tony Matos said Sunday that Garrett Gomez is “doing great” and “itching to come back,” but the rider will be out at least another week while he deals with personal issues………..Leading trainer John Sadler was at Belmont Park Saturday, where he saddled Lady of Shamrock for a runner-up finish in the Grade II New York Stakes. The 4-year-old Scat Daddy filly, winner of the Grade I American Oaks in 2012 at Betfair Hollywood Park, emerged from the race well, according to assistant trainer Larry Benavidez, and is due to return to California Tuesday ……….There was more than one smiling face around the Mike Mitchell barn Saturday. Two races before Obviously’s victory in the Shoemaker Mile, assistant trainer Phil D’Amato won the day’s opener with 11-1 shot Soul Candy. Soul Candy was ridden by Mitchell’s son-in-law, Julien Leparoux …..Trainer John Shirreffs is looking for an allowance race in New York for Eblouissante’s next start. The half-sister to 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta broke into the game last Nov. 16 with an impressive debut victory at Betfair Hollywood Park….Seven-pound apprentice jockey Arnold Perez scored his first Hollywood Park win aboard 22-1 shot Santa Lucia in the third race June 28.
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