Las Vegas, NV - The Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap is on tap for this Saturday, July 6 from Betfair Hollywood Park in Inglewood, California. Horses three years old and upward will be featured as they go 1 1/4 miles on Hollywood Park's dirt track for a purse of $500,000.
The Hollywood Gold Cup has attracted a small but quality field of five for race 9 on Hollywood Park's Saturday card. Post time is 5:00 PM. Let's take a look at the credentials of all five combatants in the second smallest field ever for this Grade 1 stakes.
Game on Dude Bob Baffert trained gelding is a multiple Grade 1 winner and the defending champion in this race over Richard's Kid - and he finished second in 2011. He has seven graded stakes scores in his last 10 starts - the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on June 2 over Kettle Corn, the Hollywood Gold Cup July 7, the Grade 1 Awesome Again September 29, the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes at Hollywood Park December 1 in gate-to-wire fashion, in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes February 3, a repeat win in the Big Cap at Santa Anita and last time out in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic over Clubhouse Ride back in April. His only poor result the last year was in the Breeders' Cup Classic where he finished seventh. Still, game On Dude was a consideration for last year's Eclipse Award for older male and if not for Wise Dan, he may have been in the running this year again. He is by far the most accomplished entry in the field, will be looking to become one of three multiple Gold Cup winners and as usual is the one to beat.
Sky Kingdom - Bob Baffert trained Sky Kingdom had been out of action for nearly a year and returned to a win in an Allowance Optional Claiming at Santa Anita January 24 and a third in an Allowance February 22. He had his most impressive result to date - a win in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths at Santa Anita March 23 with a Beyer Speed Figure of 104 but most recently was a disappointing sixth as favorite in his first start on turf in the Grade 2 San Juan Capistrano April 21. He has won four times in 10 career starts with one third place finish and has posted victory in every second race the last eight starts. If the pattern holds true Sky Kingdom is due for a win! But he has to get by Game On Dude which is highly unlikely.
Clubhouse Ride - broke a streak of five straight runner-up finishes with a win last time out in the Grade 2 Californian by 2 1/4 lengths over many of his Hollywood Gold Cup rivals. The seconds include the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic April 20 behind Game On Dude after the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap March 2, the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes in February, in the Grade 3 Daytona Stakes in December and an Allowance Optional Claiming on January 10. He finally broke through last time out against a tough field and will be looking to keep the role going Saturday. He has just four wins, eight seconds and eight third place finishes in 28 career starts but has some momentum heading into this weekend.
Kettle Corn - finished third in this race last year and has placed in 11 of his last 13 starts but is coming off one of his rare off the board finishes - last time out was fourth in the Grade 2 Californian June 1 after a second to Liaison in the Grade 2 Mervyn Leroy Handicap here May 4, a third in the Grade 3 Native Dancer Stakes December 1 and an Allowance score also here November 8 - his only win in the last 18 months. He also had two consecutive wins on this track at the end of 2011 including the Grade 3 Native Diver. Kettle Corn has three wins, two seconds and a third place finish in his last eight starts on this track and could be a factor Saturday.
Oilisblackgold - had a couple of OK showings in graded stakes action in 2011 but focused on Allowance Optional Claiming up until March 2013 - seven straight yielded two wins, two seconds and two third place finishes. He stepped out and registered a very nice second behind Sky Kingdom in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita March 23 to re-emerge on the graded stakes radar and last time out finished a respectable third in the ultra-competitive Grade 2 Californian here June 1. He has just three wins in 25 career starts but two of them have come in his last five starts with that good second and a third in his last two graded stakes races but has yet to break through with a win in stakes company.