When the gates start loading for the 54th running of The Rebel stakes (gr.2) there will be an 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms. Although we all know the weather can quickly change; the current forecast for Hot Springs Arkansas is slated for a very wet and humid weekend! Alas, weather can surely influence the outcome of a race and a sloppy- muddy track could definitely result in surprising results. With a much smaller field than originally anticipated, 8 sophomores will be taking a plunge in stretching out to 2-turns (some for the first time). With the end in mind; trainers/owners hope their young colts will thrive the added distance when stretching out to 2-turns. A victory will guarantee the winner a spot in the Kentucky Derby since only the top twenty 3-year olds will make it to the gate on the first Saturday in May.
This past weekend was the start to the Championship Series and a pivotal point on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Contenders are starting to emerge and slowly revealing themselves, as each prep win is now worth a whopping 50 points. Most 3-year olds at this time are stretching out from 1 to 2 turns for the first time, as well as facing much larger fields.
Post position and traffic problems can affect an inexperienced horse, but each race is a stepping-stone to learning, growing and gaining the experience that is needed to make it to the first Saturday in May .
The Risen Star Stakes and the Fountain of Youth started off the series with both winners exemplifying a “fighting spirit” to the very end! Re-watching both races will leave you on the edge of your seat with spine-chilling finishes that will leave you wanting more. It’s just the start to new beginnings as we experience these young colts develop into pure competitors, and amazing athletes.
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