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Richard Mandella's Royal Ship, formerly a turf specialist, appears ready for his close-up on dirt, as he heads Monday's Grade I, $300,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park.
Originally run and won in 1938 by Seabiscuit at Hollywood Park, Monday's renewal has attracted a field of seven 3-year-olds and up at a mile and one quarter and will mark the 83rd renewal of one of North America's most prestigious races for handicap division horses.
Race 8 at Santa Anita on Monday, May 31 - Post 7:51 PM
|1||Royal Ship (BRZ)||5-2||Mike Smith
|2||Country Grammer||5-2||Flavien Prat
|3||Brown Storm (CHI)||20-1||Umberto Rispoli
|4||Heywoods Beach||5-1||Tyler Baze
|6||Two Thirty Five||30-1||Abel Cedillo
|7||Express Train||2-1||Juan Hernandez
Prominent among those who will try to deny Royal Ship is the John Shirreffs-trained Express Train, who returns to Santa Anita following a third place finish in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap and the Michael McCarthy-trained Rushie, who was beaten a nose in the ungraded Oaklawn Mile on April 10.
A 5-year-old gelding who was making only his third start on dirt, Brazilian-bred Royal Ship stalked the pace proved gamest late in taking the Grade II, 1 1/8 mile Californian Stakes by neck on April 17. A Group I winner on grass in Brazil, Royal Ship, a 5-year-old gelding by Midshipman, had been winless in four starts for Mandella prior to the Californian.
In winning the iconic Gold Cup prep, Royal Ship earned a Gold Cup-best last-out Beyer Speed figure of 108 and will hope to stretch his current form to a mile and a quarter-a distance that's he's never tried.
Owned by Fox Hill Farms, Inc. and Siena Farm, LLC, Royal Ship is 12-6-1-2 and will be ridden by Mike Smith for the sixth consecutive time.
A rousing 31/4 length winner of the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes three starts back on Jan. 30, Express Train opened up turning for home in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 6, but was overtaken late to be defeated by a half length by Idol.
A 4-year-old colt by Union Rags, Express Train was subsequently made the 9-5 favorite in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap, but finished third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. Owned by Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stable, Express Train, who is 10-3-4-1, rates a huge chance with regular rider Juan Hernandez back aboard.
Rushie, a one mile maiden winner in his second start eight races back on Feb. 1, 2020, has raced out of town in his last four races, finishing second by a nose on April 10 at Oaklawn Park, seventh by 6 1/2 lengths in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland Nov. 7, winning the Grade II Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs by 1 3/4 lengths on Sept. 5 and running third, beaten 8 ¼ lengths, in the Grade II Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on July 11, 2020.
With newly relocated Trevor McCarthy set to ride for the first time, Rushie, a 4-year-old Florida-bred colt by Liam's Map who will be trying a mile and one quarter for the first time, will run out of his own stall for the first time since finishing third in the Grade I Runhappy Santa Anita Derby on June 6, 2020. Owned by Jim and Donna Daniell, Rushie is 9-3-2-2 with earnings of $583,151.
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