INGLEWOOD, Calif. (July 8, 2009) — Life Is Sweet will face the largest field since 1972 when she attempts to become the first filly in 41 years to win the $700,000 TVG/Betfair Hollywood Gold Cup on Saturday at Hollywood Park.
The 4-year-old daughter of Storm Cat, who opted to face the boys rather than run a second time against unbeaten stablemate Zenyatta two weeks ago in the Vanity Handicap, will face 12 rivals in the 70th running of the 1 1/4-mile classic on Cushion Track.
Princessnesian became the third female to win the Gold Cup in 1968, joining Happy Issue (1944) and Two Lea (1952). The field will be the largest field since the great Quack topped a 14-horse field in 1972. There have only been three fields larger than Saturday’s with the record of 16 established when Fred Astaire’s Triplicate won the 1946 running.
Life Is Sweet, who will be ridden by two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Garrett Gomez, will be the 29th female starter in the Gold Cup and the first since Kilijaro finished seventh in 1981. Besides the winning trio, three-time starter Honeymoon (second in 1946 and third in 1947), Bewitch (second in 1951), A Gleam (third in 1953) and Cascapedia (second in 1977) have finished in the money.
Life Is Sweet was assigned 113 pounds, just one less than high weight Parading (119) when the five-pound female allowance is considered. Hollywood Park oddsmaker Russell Hudak established her as the second choice at 9-2 on the morning line. Eastern shipper Parading is the 4-1 morning-line favorite.
The Gold Cup, which will run as the eighth race on Saturday’s 11-race program, will line up as follows from the rail out:
Autism Awareness, with David Lopez up, will carry 114 pounds and is listed at 30-1 on the morning line; Big Booster, Joel Rosario, 115, 12-1; Mast Track, David Flores, 114, 20-1; Bullsbay, Jeremy Rose, 118, 8-1; Parading, Kent Desormeaux, 119, 4-1; Dakota Phone, Rafael Bejarano, 116, 6-1; Song of Navarone, Victor Espinoza, 117, 12-1; Rail Trip, Jose Valdivia Jr., 116, 5-1; Tres Borrachos, Joseph Talamo, 114, 30-1; Life Is Sweet, Garrett Gomez, 113, 9-2; Global Hunter, Corey Nakatani, 115, 20-1; Informed, Tyler Baze, 117, 6-1, and Magnum, Martin Pedroza, 115, 12-1.
Life Is Sweet a 4-year-old owned by Pam and Martin Wygod and trained by John Shirreffs, has five wins and three seconds in 11 starts for earnings of $570,810. One of ten graded/group stakes winners in the Gold Cup field, she won three consecutive graded races and was named outstanding older female at the Santa Anita winter/spring meeting. Her biggest victory came at nine furlongs in the Grade I Santa Margarita Handicap. She will be one of several contenders trying ten furlongs for the first time on Saturday.
Parading and Informed are among that group.
Phipps Stable’s Parading enters with consecutive victories in the Ben Ali at Keeneland and the Dixie at Pimlico. The Shug McGaughey-trained son of Pulpit has won seven of 17 starts, including three of his last four, when his lone defeat was by a nose. The 6-year-old chestnut horse has made $405,046.
Informed, a 5-year-old son of Tiznow owed by W.C. Racing and Westside Rentals.com, scored a 14-1 upset under Baze in The Californian and will try to maintain trainer Doug O’Neill’s perfect record in the Gold Cup. O’Neill is four-for-four with a win by Sky Jack in 2002 and three consecutive victories by Lava Man from 2005-2007.
“It would be great if we could do it again,” O’Neill said earlier in the week before leaving on a Mediterranean cruise. “It doesn’t seem like the extra distance will bother him. The biggest thing is getting a good trip. He got a real good ride last time from Tyler.”
O’Neill, runaway leader in the Hollywood Park trainers’ standings, was on a vacation in Ireland when Lava Man matched legendary Native Diver with his third Gold Cup win in 2007.
Rail Trip, a 4-year-old son of Jump Start, won his first five starts for Jay Em Ess Stable and trainer Ron Ellis. The beaten favorite in the Mervyn LeRoy and The Californian — finishing second on both occasions — he will only be making his eighth start in the Gold Cup. He has made $274,790.
Bullsbay, a shipper from trainer Graham Motion’s Maryland base, won stakes at Laurel and Churchill Downs before finishing in a dead heat for fourth in the Stephen Foster Handicap — beaten 1 1/4 lengths. Also a 5-year-old son of Tiznow, he has won six of 16 starts for earnings of $360,943.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel will be represented by defending champion Mast Track — a horse he bred and owns. Frankel, who will be aiming for his fourth Gold Cup win, also connected with Marquetry — who paid a record $56.80 in 1991 — and Aptitude, who finished second but was placed first through the disqualification of Futural in 2001.
Mast Track, who got away with slow fractions under Baze en route to a 10-1 upset in the 2008 Gold Cup, finished third next start in the Pacific Classic, but he has finished off the board in his last four races. He enters with five wins in 15 starts and earnings of $760,022.
Dakota Phone, owned by Halo Farms and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, closed from well back to finish a hard-charging third under Bejarano in The Californian. The 4-year-old has run well all year and was second in the San Fernando and third in the Mervyn LeRoy. He has won four of 18 starts for earnings of $305,010.
Big Booster is the most experienced horse in the field. He will be making his 50th start Saturday and third in the Gold Cup after finishing third in 2007 and fifth in 2008. The 8-year-old gelding has won ten races and $820,623, his biggest victory coming in the 2008 San Juan Capistrano on turf for trainer Mike Mitchell.
Autism Awareness, who scored a 62-1 upset in the 2008 El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows, has won two of his last three starts including the Berkeley at odds of 30-1. The 4-year-old is owned by Johnny Taboada, whose son Renzo has autism. Autism Awareness has won four of 22 starts for earnings of $281,745 while helping the Taboada family promote awareness of the developmental disability that affects children.
George Coleman’s Song of Navarone was beaten one length while finishing fourth in The Californian. He won his first three starts of 2009 at Sunland Park in New Mexico before finishing third two races back in the Texas Mile at Lone Star Park. The 5-year-old son of 1992 Gold Cup winner Sultry Song is eight of 13 overall with earnings of $682,158.
Tres Borrachos posted an 11-1 upset here in the 2008 Swaps for trainer Beau Greely and partners. He registered his first victory in four 2009 starts here in May over 1 1/16 miles on Cushion Track. The 4-year-old gelding has won three of 17 starts for earnings of $435,622.
Argentine-bred Magnum won the San Antonio Handicap at nine furlongs in February, then finished fifth in the Santa Anita Handicap. The 8-year-old will be making his 30th career start, but only his second at Hollywood Park, where he finished fourth in the 2006 Gold Cup.
The Darrell Vienna-trained gelding has won six of 29 starts for earnings of $854,249.
Global Hunter, also an Argentine-bred, has won six of 23 starts — all but one of the victories coming on turf. The 6-year-old horse has not started since finishing fifth in the Arcadia Handicap at one mile on turf in April. A winner of $245,365, his biggest win came in a Group II race in Argentina in 2007.
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