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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Instructional Video: How to Skim the Hedge in Horse Racing…

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Wise Dan gave us a thrilling ride as he managed to overcome a troubled trip yesterday in the 23rd Firecracker Handicap (gr.2) at Churchill Downs on the turf.  With a yielding track, and pouring rain the horse and jockey displayed pure finesse. Weather was not in their favor, but the reigning “Horse of the Year” proved to us how fearless he really is.

Wise Dan held his position along the inside of the track, as he sat patiently in 3rd/4th.  You could see JR Velazquez holding this mighty horse back with the strategy to obviously keep him on the inside as he dabbed on the breaks. Coming into the final furlong, Wise Dan was still pinned on the inside amongst the other contenders, and rather than finding a way out of the clustered mess; JR Velazquez maneuvered Wise Dan so tightly upon the hedge there was no room for error.

“I was in the right spot the whole way and he was going well the whole way,” the Hall of Fame rider said. “I didn’t want to make a premature move. I decided to wait. I had to work my way out. If you watch the head-on, he brushes up against the bushes and he even jumped right at the eighth pole. By the sixteenth-pole, though, he got through. He’s just a very good horse. I know he can handle it when things get tight. He’s big enough to push his way through. I’ve ridden him that way before and I wasn’t worried about it.”  Courtesy of :  Bloodhorse.com

As fast as he was moving and trying to seize whatever opportunity he could find, there were a couple of moments when he did have to steady while trying to overcome traffic. He battled like a warrior with only  inches away from the hedge and the pacesetter Seruni. As he overcame traffic problems running on the inside, he finally got a gap to easily win by 2 lengths. Late-running Lea managed to come in 2nd beating pacesetter Seruni, by a neck. Wise Dan managed to run his foes down while carrying 11-13 pounds more than his fellow contenders.

He is the first horse to ever win two Firecracker Handicaps, and has now won eight of nine turf races in his career and is 3-for-3 over Churchill’s turf.

If you haven’t seen the race, you have to check it out!

 

Courtesy of: Youtube

Yes! A filly in the Belmont…

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In the 145 year history of the Belmont Stakes 23 fillies have entered into the Belmont Stakes in hopes for victory, and to be draped with a blanket of white carnations. Only 3 fillies have accomplished this amazing feat and whose names have been written in the history books as simple amazing.  The very first Belmont Stakes in 1867 was won by a filly named Ruthless, in 1905 a filly named Tanya, and then 102 years later in 2007 Todd Pletcher’s captures the win aboard Rags to Riches.  Only 3 gutsy fillies have done it, and the question is: Will history be made in this year’s Belmont Stakes; with the first female jockey, and a filly named Unlimited Budget? 

Fillies to place in Belmont Stakes
Year, Filly, Finish
1867, Ruthless, 1st
1868, Fanny Ludluw, 3rd
1869, Invercauld, 3rd
1870, Midday, 3rd
1905, Tanya, 1st
1913, Flying Fairy, 3rd
1927, Flambino, 3rd
1980, Genuine Risk, 2nd
1996, My Flag, 3rd
2007, Rags to Riches, 1st

*Courtesy of Bloodhorse.com, Article: Unlimited Budget will get her shot at history

The news was confirmed yesterday that Unlimited Budget will indeed be running with the boys! This awesome addition always adds excitement to see a filly in the race. Now add the top female jockey, Rosie Napravnik we just “Kicked It Up a Notch”! Check out my article called, “100 Oak Points”, which shares my thoughts on the new Derby Points System and explains about the eligibility to run in the Kentucky Derby.  Fillies that were graded stakes winner like Unlimited Budget; were unable to partake in this year’s running of the Kentucky Derby with this very specialized point system. There are fans for the new system, as well as others that are not too thrilled. The opportunities just were not there to see the true potential of some amazing fillies in this year’s three year old crop. Shut out, before shipping out! Like anything in life, I hate to say it; at times the measurement of a female’s ability is  how good she stands against her male counterpart. A horse can be a considered a super filly, but can she shine amongst a group of top 3-year old colts? A filly can be great, but once proven…She goes into that “unbelievable” category.

In an article on Bloodhorse’s website , Owner Mike Repole said, “Unlimited Budget’s physical size and her mental maturity gave him the confidence that the Street Sense filly would fare well against the males.  She’ll be one of the larger horses in the race.”  The first time he set eyes on her, he thought she was a colt. “She is as big and tall, if not bigger, than many of these colts”.

She has the running style that will fare well in this race as she will be stalking the pace from mid-range and her speed scores are very comparable to her male counterparts. Out of a lifetime of 5 races, she was 3rd in her last race the G-I Kentucky Oaks and won her 4 previous races which consist of two G-2 races, and a G-3 race.  Add to her resume, triple digit Brisnet speed scores on her last two races  She had a sharp 4f bullet work: 47.2 – 1/46 on June the 2nd, and had a couple of other good works at Belmont.

Can this female duo outsmart, outlast and outrun the boys?  We’ll find the answer in the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes.

Good luck to Rosie Napravnik and Graded Stakes winner, Unlimited Budget = GIRL POWER!

Unlimited Riches; Will A Filly Run In The Belmont Stakes?

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Lets all go back 6 years, to 2007 when a filly named Rags to Riches dominated the boys in the final quest to the last jewel of the Triple Crown.  It was a monstrous feat to outlast the almighty Curlin but Rags to Riches prevailed, and become the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont Stakes.

I can faintly hear the echoes of Tom Durkins’ thrilling race-call as the horses are running toward the top of the stretch, “A filly is in the front of the Belmont, but Curlin is right there with her.  These two in the “Battle of the Sexes” in the Belmont Stakes. It is Curlin on the inside, and Rags to Riches on the outside in a desperate finish. Rags to Riches and Curlin they’re coming down to the wire. It’s going to be close… and it’s going to be a filly in the Belmont! Rags to Riches has beaten Curlin and a 100 years of Belmont history. The first filly to win it in a century!”

What an exciting feat for Todd Pletcher’s first “Classic”,  win with a filly in the Belmont!

June 8th will be the 145th running of the Belmont Stakes, and with no Triple Crown on the line there is still much suspense brewing in the air with Todd Pletcher’s filly possibly running in the most challenging leg of the Triple Crown.  Decision to run her is still not 100%, but after turning in a sharp half-mile in:  47 2/5 this morning and galloping out five furlongs in 1:00 in company with Capo Bastone, Todd Pletcher estimates her chances of running in the Belmont as 80-90%. In a recent article from Bloodhorse website, Pletcher was very happy with how she worked as she seemed enthusiastic, and did not have to be asked or encouraged at any point. He plans to confirm with Owner Mike Repole at the end of the day whether the filly will run in the race.  Her connections have been debating on whether to run her in the Belmont Stakes against the boys, or go against top filly Dreaming of Julia in the Grade I- Mother Goose on June 22nd.

Now if she does run in the Belmont, will she be able to emulate Todd Pletcher’s “only” Belmont win with Rags to Riches?  Inquiring minds want to know:  Can the only filly in the race beat a tough field of male contenders? Does she have the tenacity that Rags to Riches had? Does she have the pedigree to go a mile and a half? Will this finally be the year that Todd Pletcher adds another Belmont win to his resume? Who is this filly, and what do we need to know about her?

Her name is Unlimited Budget.  She is a stunning 3 -year old filly, out of the 2010 Kentucky Derby and Preakness 2nd place winner, Street Sense- Unlimited Appeal, by Valid Appeal. She was bred in Florida, out of Ocala Stud. Her name refers to what Owner, Mike Repole regretfully told his wife about her spending limit for their new home after selling his company Glaceau, maker of Vitaminwater and Smart water, to Coca-Cola for $4.1. “You’ve got an unlimited budget with this house.” What a perfect name!

She’s a big Street Sense filly, and although there is some concern from her female family, which is more predominately speed-oriented, her sire’s line is bred for stamina.

In another article in Blood Horse website, when comparing Unlimited Budget to his 2007 Belmont Stakes winner, Rags to Riches this is what Todd Pletcher had to say, “The bottom side of her pedigree isn’t as deep in stamina as Rags to Riches. The biggest thing about Rags to Riches pedigree is that she is so stoutly bred. She was sired out of a Belmont winner , A.P. Indy and being a half sister to a Belmont winner, Jazil”.   So there is little concern, but on the positive side Unlimited Budget has already won at a mile and a sixteenth twice this year, and has also won going at a mile and an eighth as a 2-year old so going longer in distance, should not be a major problem.  Her speed figures also match up to the colts she would be going up against; so she seems to fit into the mix.

Add the top female jockey to the equation, and you could possibly have a winning combination. Rosie Napravnik is likely to ride Unlimited Budget, and will attempt to become the only female rider to win the Belmont since Julie Krone in 1993, aboard Colonial Affair.  Having a female duo in a male dominated race is always exciting, as it gets the female bettors more involved in the sports betting.

Lets hope Unlimited Budget runs with the boys, and shows the sport what she is all about.  In Mike Repole’s words, “She’s not only Unlimited Budget; I think she has unlimited potential too”.

Pace Makes The Race…

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For Every horse racing fan out there, the Kentucky Derby is known in the United States as, “The most exciting two minutes in sports”. The countdown is quickly approaching, and everyone who loves the sport now claims to have derby fever. Yes, it is highly contagious and if you don’t know much about the sport this is the perfect time of the year to find a new love in thoroughbred horse racing. 
It’s the sport of kings, and if the sport itself does not intrigue you; the beauty of a thoroughbred horse should!  Its’ grace and power will take your breath away as they blitz by you with speed and finesses.  I wish I had enough time to captivate you with all the information you need to love the sport as much as I do, but for now let me entertain you with some great information for this year’s race.
It’s the 139th, Run for the Roses, and the question is who will adorn the blanket of sweet Kentucky roses? Out of 40,000 foals born each year, only 20 will make it to the gate on the first Saturday in May. Mixed with talent and a bit of luck, it’s every owner’s and trainer’s dream to make it to the gate and hear those magical words, “And they’re off…” It is like music to every owner’s/trainer’s ears.
In my opinion, this year’s field appears to be wide open. There are several stand-outs that we can all give legitimate reasons for strong contenders within the race. A good post position, an honest pace, a good trip and let’s not forget “luck” from the ‘Racing Gods’, anyone of these stand-outs could win or definitely come in the money.
I’m a firm believer that pace makes the race and with that said one of my top 3 contenders is GOLDENCENTS. I saw this magnificent colt run in the Santa Anita Derby and I said to myself, “I just may have seen the Kentucky Derby winner” again…  With a moderate pace anticipated in his year’s race; he will definitely be a pace presence.  Falling Sky and Lucas’s rabbit – Oxbow will be part of the pace along with Verrazano.  While several others will be just off the pace; I am also hoping Goldencents will do the same. Let’s hope he sits comfortably off the pace as he did in the Santa Anita without burning the candle too early, too soon.  None of these 3-year olds have run 10f, so this will be test to see who will triumph the “Classic Mile”. Goldencents  will be dangerous with his high cruising speed and I’m hoping his jockey Kevin Krigger will be able to control the needed pace and let him ride through the top of the stretch holding off the closers that will be charging late from the rear.  Patience and timing will set up the perfect trip for the winner.  This is a talented colt that has proven that he is tough beyond his pedigree; which does not scream distance. 
REVOLUTIONARY has a very classy pedigree with stamina influence from his Dam’s Sire A.P. Indy.  Javas War also shares the same Sire, War Pass – who favors speed over stamina and still unsure whether his offspring can handle 10f. This is a colt that has extreme talent and has the ability to overcome a bad trip which gives him the tactical edge against other horses in this race that have not had to deal with traffic problems. He has the ability to come from anywhere on the track which indicates intelligence, and you also can’t go wrong with having Calvin Borel (Mr. Churchill Downs himself), as your jockey.  I see this colt as a major threat, and with the perfect trip he might just skim the rail to victory.
It’s difficult not to like ORB. He is a major threat with outstanding pedigree that will suit the distance for the Triple Crown races. Both his Sire and Damsire has produces multiple winners beyond 10f. Orb’s Sire Malibu Moon is the son of stamina influence A.P. Indy, and his Dam Sire Unbridled was 3 year old of the year and captured both the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic. He has been improving in each race and has proven in the Florida Derby that he can sit much closer to the front as his closing style had previously indicated.
I’m going to have to leave VERRAZANO off my list, a bit risky…I know. He obviously a very strong contender, but as with GOVERNOR CHARLIE both did not race prior to January and I’ll have to go with the thought that the last Kentucky Derby winner who “did not” race as a 2 year old was Apollo back in 1882, and history continues to repeat itself.  He is large and muscular and the only undefeated horse in the field, but I’m going to have to stick to my gut and believe he will probably finish mid-pack rather than in the money. Lets’ also not forget the “Wood Memorial Curse”. Silly you think? To put it lightly, colts coming out of this race have not had the best of luck. Will Verrazano be the first to break this curse?
Finally every handicapper must have a few dark horses to win the derby. I am going to include into my exactas and trifectas Will Take Charge, MyLute and Normandy Invasion.  Not unrealistic; especially for MyLute who has been improving with each race. What can I say about Will Take Charge? He has improved since his last race and achieved one of the highest Brisnet speed scores which is close to the speed par of the Kentucky Derby, (Courtesy of Brisnet.com). He also had two works at a mile (4/12 at Oaklawn Park, and at Churchill on 4/21); unlike any colt (except for Itsmyluckday who also had a mile work on 4/18). He’s a longshot in my eyes. I have also been a Normandy Invasion fan since the Remsen Stakes back in November, each time he as let me down but why jump off the wagon now? In his last race in the Wood, he finished 3/4 back from Verrazano. I’ve also noticed he was more forwardly placed in the race which I believe he will also be in the Derby. Maybe he’s finally coming around, and ready for a big win? He had a sharp workout on April 21st, he went 4f in :48, breezed 7/81 (he was 7th out of 81 runners in that workout). He is also 30% off the layoff which is a high percentage (Courtesy of Brisnet.com). 
So to recap who I like in this race, my choices right now are:  Goldencents, Orb Revolutionary. My longshots are: Will Take Charge, Mylute and Normandy Invasion. I will probably trim this down to 4 colts within the next few days.
We still have 5 more days to ponder on who will be draped with the beautiful blanket of roses. There is still much to consider with post positions still unknown.  Weather will also be a strong factor since there are other’s within the group what will relish the mud.  There is much to consider if you are lucky enough to pick the Kentucky Derby winner, but remember pace will make the race!