Breeder's Cup Prep: Complete Hollywood Gold Cup Preview
Rob Carr/Getty Images
The Hollywood Gold Cup is the second "Win and You're In" race in the Breeder's Cup Challenge, Classic Division. The race sets up to showcase Game On Dude, one of racing's most prized four year olds, who faces tough competition from a crop of Breeder's Cup hopefuls.
When: July 7, 2012 at 5:10 PM*
Where: Betfair Hollywood Park, California
Race Type: Grade 1 Stakes Win And You're In Breeder's Cup Challenge, Classic Division
Distance: One Mile And A Quarter
Reigning Champion: First Dude
Race Record Time: 2:00.75 - Rail Trip, 2009**
*Post time subject to change
**Overall record is 1:58.20 by Quack in 1972 when race was run on dirt
As a Kentucky Derby contender in 2011, Anthony’s Cross' shine seems to have worn off.
His most impressive race to date was at last year’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes where he tailed the lead the entire race, held off Riveting Reason in a dead sprint to the wire and won by a nose. After that race, the excitement faded.
In a final 2011 Derby prep, the 2011 Santa Anita Derby, Anthony’s Cross could not find his stride and failed to make a move down the stretch. He finished fifth.
This year, the 4-year-old has raced in a $60,000 Allowance at Santa Anita and a $57,000 Allowance at Betfair Hollywood Park. He placed seventh and fourth, respectively, in those races.
The only graded stakes race for Anthony’s Cross this 2012 season was the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap in May, where he failed to turn any heads on his way to a lazy fourth-place finish.
Anthony’s cross seems to be lacking an identity.
He, his trainer (Eoin Hardy), and his riders can’t seem to figure out if he’s an on-lead runner or a mid-pack stalker. He seems to be a bit moody when ridden hard and does not have a great stretch move to speak of. Anthony’s Cross should be a definite long shot and a dangerous bet on Saturday.
Game on Dude
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Game On Dude seems to be out to make 2012 his year.
He’s sitting third in the most recent NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll and rocked the racing world with a dominant outing in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes in early June. The Dude has star power out the yin-yang, being ridden by celebrity jockey Chantal Sutherland and being a prized trainee of Bob Baffert.
In the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes in February, Game On Dude beat up on a tough-enough field at Santa Anita. He raced to challenge out of the start and pulled away down the stretch. He won by five-and-a-quarter lengths and posted a none-too-shabby 115 Equibase speed rating.
His only disappointment thus far came in an awkward Dubai World Cup where he was obviously affected by a different climate, a long trip, and a dense field.
Returning to the U.S., Game on Dude crushed top competition in the Grade 2 Californian. Running lead wire-to-wire, the Dude ran away from the pack down the stretch and showed spectators an extra gear that left the nearest challenger seven-and-a-quarter lengths back at the wire.
Game On Dude has shown blazing speed, a will to win, and an ability to beat good competition. He will be the inevitable favorite going into Saturday and should be right at the wire come the end of the race. Baffert has trained this horse to gain like a freight train and to breeze while leading, and if he is not hindered by an awful trip, Game On Dude should win this race.
After being the first in line to taste Game On Dude’s dust in the Californian, Kettle Corn might be looking to make a rivalry of it.
The John Sadler trainee has showed promise, but lacks a certain je ne sais quoi that would make him a standout colt. He has showed up for big races this year, though, and he will be a top challenger in the Gold Cup.
In his first graded stakes race of 2012, the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap fought the urge to tail the fast pace and patiently waited three lengths back until the top of the stretch. From there, he jumped up to match the leader and outraced him to the wire.
Then came the Grade 2 Mervyn Leroy Handicap.
The field was extremely tough. Kettle Corn faced legitimate challengers like Morning Line, Prayer For Relief, Awesome Gem, and Thirtyfirststreet. Kettle was bumped early and never fully recovered. He had a nice little run to show down the stretch and beat his competition outright.
As mentioned before, Kettle Corn was the closest horse to catching Game On Dude in the Californian early last month. The problem with that accomplishment: He was still more than seven lengths back at the wire. Regardless, Kettle Corn beat a very competitive rest of the field, made a monstrous move at the half mile mark and out raced his challenger to the wire.
Kettle Corn is an intriguing horse. He has shown the ability and the talent to make a big move early to mid-race. The problem is that Kettle Corn doesn’t explode to the wire; he doesn’t seem to have the second gear that Game On Dude has. If there is not a runaway leader down the stretch and Kettle Corn is in that lead pack, there’s a good chance he’ll be able to cross the wire first.
Love Theway Youare
Love Theway Youare is coming off a huge victory in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap.
She beat top filly Include Me Out and the impressive Ellafitz. She posted up against virtually equal competition in the Grade 2 M.L. Evert a month earlier, but lost her jockey out of the gate and was unable to finish.
Overall, 2012 has been a lackluster year for the four year old. She impressively came in second to rival Include Me Out at the Grade 1 San Margarita Stakes in March, but finished seventh in the Grade 2 La Troienne and fourth in both the Grade 2 La Canada and Grade 2 Santa Maria.
The Vanity win was impressive though. The pace was fast and Love sat pack and trotted along, waiting to break. And break she did. This filly closes like a freight train. She’s one of those horses (much like Kettle Corn) that will eat up dirt and surprise the leader at the 100-yard mark.
In all, Love Theway Youare is a nice competitor.
She’s never raced against male competition, but she has proven to be a top competitor on the F&M circuit. One can only assume by her less-than stellar performance on dirt and contrasted with her big win on all-weather that she could do well on Hollywood’s synthetic surface. She’ll be one to watch coming down the stretch, moving slowly but surely toward the lead.
Jacob de Golish/Getty Images
Richard’s kid is a misnomer.
This seven-year-old horse is anything but childlike. In 33 career starts, the Baffert trainee has 10 wins and has been in the money over 50 percent of the time. In the past year, Richard’s Kid has done most of his racing at the highly competitive Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
The tough international competition has not treated Richard’s Kid well. In a string of five consecutive races in Meydan, dating back to March 2011, he has not been able to finish higher than fourth. To his credit, however, those five races were made up of two Grade 1 stakes and three of the Grade 2 variety.
The competition in Dubai must have toughened this old boy up, though, as his homecoming was nothing short of spectacular. In the inaugural $70,000 Prove It Stakes at Hollywood Park, Richard’s Kid smoked a field of five on his way to a seven-and-a-quarter length victory.
I don’t know if Richard’s Kid has the lasting speed to keep up with the youth in this race. He’s a tough competitor and could pass some weaker horses, but do I see this Kid beating Game On Dude or Kettle Corn? No. He’ll be a dangerous bet and would be a surprise to win.
Spud Spivens is coming off an impressive win in an allowance at Betfair Hollywood. Up until that impressive win, Spivens’ races were not too impressive. He has some good experience with four stakes races under his belt this year (all but one: the Grade 1 San Fernando Stakes, was ungraded) but he has failed to be in the money twice.
We could see a slight change in style in the Gold Cup, as Spud won his last race running mid-pack but failed to perform in previous races by trailing the whole way. I believe Spud is better off keeping an eye on the lead, as he seemed to respond to the motivation in his last allowance race. He just does not have a strong move toward the finish. His abilities don’t set up to be a late-charger.
Overall, Spud is an unimpressive specimen. Sure, he ran down a leader last race, but it could be counted as a fluke. He had a near-perfect rail trip the whole way and ran down a tiring lead horse.
If this horse gets a good trip and the pace is fast, AND the leaders fade dramatically down the stretch, he could have a chance. Ask any handicapper or fan: That’s a tall order for any racer. Look for Spivens to be out of the money tomorrow.
Thirtyfirststreet was an 83-1 long shot in a close fourth place at the top of the stretch with a shot to win. Unfortunately, jockey Eswan Flores steered the colt to close to the rail in an effort to squeeze by the leaders coming out of the final turn.
A win would have been monumental for the Thirtyfirststreet team, but it was instead chalked up to a what-could-have-been memory.
Since that race, the four-year-old has showed well in a string of stakes races but has not really sniffed the money. His most impressive stakes showing of 2012 was a not-so-close fourth place finish in the Grade 2 Mervyn Leroy against some tough competition, Morning Line and Prayer For Relief.
Thirtyfirststreet is not an explosive horse, but he is a solid racer.
He hasn’t really found his niche as far as a racing style goes, but I’d look for him to run mid-pack and be a close stalker as early as the three quarter mile pole. It’ll be up to the horse whether he’ll make a charge to win, but I have a feeling we won’t see it. This will be only the second time since last spring that he’s run on all-weather, and he has never had much success on the surface.