Defending champion Game On Dude and 2011 CashCall Futurity winner Liaison head the list of nominees to the Grade 1, $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.
The signature race of the Spring/Summer meet, the Gold Cup, which is run at 1 ¼ miles over Cushion Track, will be renewed for the 74th time Saturday, July 6 at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable and Bernie Schiappa and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Game On Dude has won 13 of 25 and earned $4,702,158.
A 6-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again and the Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure, Game On Dude could become the third horse to win the Gold Cup more than once. Native Diver (1965-1967) and Lava Man (2005-2007) were both three time winners.
Baffert, who has won the Gold Cup four times with Congaree (2003) and Real Quiet (1999) preceding First Dude and Game On Dude, also nominated Liaison and Sky Kingdom. The trainer has finished 1-2 in the last two Gold Cups.
Owned by Arnold Zetcher LLC, Liaison, a 4-year-old son of Indian Charlie and the Victory Gallop mare Galloping Gal, has not been worse than third in six races over Cushion Track. In addition to his victory in the CashCall Futurity, Liaison won the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap May 4 and was runner-up in the Grade II Californian June 1. He’s 5-for-15 in his career with earnings of $751,794.
Sky Kingdom returns to synthetic after finishing last as the 13-10 favorite in the Grade II San Juan Capistrano Handicap over the Santa Anita turf April 21.
A 4-year-old son of Empire Maker and the Kingmambo mare Sky Beam, Sky Kingdom has won four of 10 and banked $233,980 for Westrock Stables LLC.
Trainer Ken McPeek, who shipped Pure Starlet to California last December and won the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet during the Autumn meet, nominated Golden Ticket.
A 4-year-old Speightstown colt out of the Deputy Minister mare Business Plan, Golden Ticket has four wins in 17 starts and earnings of $836,323 for Magic City Thoroughbred Partners.
The only stakes victory for the Kentucky bred came when he dead heated with Alpha as a 33-1 shot in the Grade 1 Travers last Aug. 25 at Saratoga.
The other nominees are Californian winner Clubhouse Ride, who finished a half-length behind Game On Dude when second in the Grade 2 Charles Town Classic April 20 at Charles Town, All Squared Away, Batti Man, Kettle Corn, who was third in the 2012 Gold Cup, and Oilisblackgold.
Weights for the Hollywood Gold Cup will be issued Sunday, June 30. Entries for both the Gold Cup and Royal Heroine will be taken Wednesday, July 3.