Seeking the LAST Pot of Gold: Hollywood Gold Cup

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The last pot of gold will be up for grabs tomorrow at Betfair Hollywood Park best known as, “The Track of Lakes and Flowers”. There is much to be sentimental about since this will be the last stirring of the pot. The 75-year-old track is scheduled to be closing down once the autumn season ends and racing will no longer continue.

With hardly any pace in the race, and a short field of just 5; Game On Dude is seeking a repeat victory. Although anything can surely happen in horse racing, its anticipated that Game On Dude under hall of fame jockey Mike Smith should dictate the pace from the early start, coast to the lead and go gate to wire.  We’ll be able to see just how great he is since his last race was two and half months ago, and he will be carrying a career high of 127.  Going a distance of a mile and a quarter, there can always be surprises when the “real” running begins. He will be tough to beat, but there may be a couple of players that could get in the way of his re-peat victory. The only horse I see pushing Game On Dude early in the race is uncoupled barnmate Sky Kingdom, which is Bob Baffert’s “other” horse. He does have the pedigree to go a mile and a quarter, and did show flash speed in his last two races, but his speed figures may not match up to Game On Dude. On a positive note, he did win a marathon 2 races back, and you can cross out his last race when he bombed going on turf for the first time. He’s had a nice bullet work on 6/30 and has had some other great workouts. With a ML of 8-1, he could be a major upset. Clubhouse Ride has been beaten by Game On Dude 3 straight times, coming in second, but he does get an 8 pound break. He’s speed rating has progressed from his last race, and he’s third off the lay-off.  I’d consider him a legitimate upset.

Here are several fun facts to share about the Hollywood Gold Cup:

  • The very first Gold Cup was held on July 16, 1938 when the great Seabiscuit, under jockey George Woolf won the race going away. This was his one and only appearance at *Hollywood Park

Let me take you back to 1938, when Seabiscuit helps put *Hollywood Race Track on the map. Please  CLICK HERE  to see the great Seabiscuit win, going away!  Courtesy: YouTube Video – cf1970

  • 1942 and 1943, there were no races at *Hollywood Park. The race track was closed and used as an airplane parts storage depot during WWII
  • In 1949, The Hollywood meet was hosted at Santa Anita Race Track due to a fire that destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse a few weeks before the opening of the meet. That year, a horse named Solidarity won the Gold Cup
  • In 1951, in the final race of his career the great Citation won the Gold Cup
  • Affirmed, the last colt to win the Triple Crown, won the 1979 Gold Cup. Later that year he went off to win Santa Anita Handicap
  • Lava Man has won 3 consecutive Gold Cups (2005, 2006, 2007), who followed in the footsteps of Native Diver (1965, 1966, 1967). Watch Lava Man’s amazing win in the 2005 Hollywood Gold Cup. He is going to open up and run away, winning by about 9 lengths!

Courtesy of YouTube: cf1970

  • A colt named Quack set the track and world record on dirt for 1 1/4 miles in the 1972 Gold Cup with a time of: 1:58.20. In 2009 Gold Cup, Rail Trip set the record on a synthetic track, finishing in 2:00.75
  • The smallest Gold Cup field in history was only 4 horses in 1999.  Real Quiet, also called “The Fish” clinched the Gold Cup victory that year
  • In 2012, Chantel Sutherland aboard Game on Dude was the first female to win the Gold Cup
  • The infamous Lava Man, now 12 years old is still active on the track as a stable pony for Doug O’Neill’s barn, and will be leading the post parade for this year’s Gold Cup. Lava Man was a grade I winner on three surfaces (dirt, synthetic, grass) at *Hollywood Park

*In the Spring/Summer meet of 2012, the track once known as Hollywood Race track opened up under the new name Betfair Hollywood Park

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My Favorite Belmont Moments…

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In a matter of 5 short weeks, the top 3 year olds in the country take part in the covenant Triple Crown Trail in hopes of stealing the jewels and capturing the long awaited Triple Crown by victoriously winning all three races.

Starting on the “first Saturday in May”, the adventure a waits in Louisville with the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Two weeks later, the horses head to Pimlico Race Track in Maryland for the Preakness Stakes where they compete in the shortest distance of the three races. Another three weeks later, they finally meet once again in Elmont, NY for the Belmont Stakes. The longest distance of the three races; there is a reason they call this race the, Test of Champions”. The sweeping turns at Belmont will challenge both the jockey and the horse, and anything can happen when a 3 year old goes a mile and a half for the first time.

Sounds easy?  Think again… It’s been 35 years since we’ve crowned a Triple Crown winner. Affirmed in 1978 sealed the deal as he triumphed over his nemesis, Alydar.

Although this year, we have no Triple Crown winner on the line the excitement still continues to brew for the Belmont Stakes on June 8th. A large field is anticipated with the possibility of a filly in the race! New surprises continually add sheer thrill to the sport of Thoroughbred Horse Racing .

As I re-watch old races on YouTube, I’m so amazed on how I am able to go back in time as if I am experiencing the moment all over again. I’ve revisited a few of my favorite Belmont races that I’d like to share with you that still triggers the same emotions each time I watch the videos:

1978 Belmont Stakes, Affirmed edges Alydar by a neck in a stirring stretched duel! I’m at the edge of my seat each time I watch this race. I could not even fathom how it must have felt to be there in person.

 

1998  Belmont Stakes, Victory Gallop guilty of a crime as he steals the Race from Real Quiet. I am not exaggerating when I say, every single time I watch this race my exact thoughts are, “Did that seriously just happened?”

 

And one of my all time favorite race calls from Tom Durkin, the 2007 Belmont Stakes, Rags To Riches. The infamous race-call of, “The Battle of the Sexes”, with the gutsy filly winning the race. I consider this race-call, “priceless”.

 

Thanks to modern technology, and YouTube we are able to go back in time and experience great races in history.

What are some of your favorite Belmont moments?

**All Videos courtesy of YouTube