Scheduled for 1 ¼ miles over Cushion Track, the Gold Cup is a “Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In’’ race. The Breeders’ Cup nominated winner is guaranteed a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. Additionally, pre-entry and entry fees will be waived and the owner given a $10,000 travel allowance.
I’ll Have Another, the recently retired winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, will be paraded after the third race, providing fans a final opportunity to see the 3-year-old son of Flower Alley before he begins his new career as a stallion in Japan.
Owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable and Bernie Schiappa and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Game On Dude comes off an authoritative win in the Grade 2 Californian June 2 under Chantal Sutherland.
The 7 ¼-length win was the seventh in 17 starts for the 5-year-old Awesome Again gelding out of the Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure and increased his earnings to $2,344,658.
The 124-pound highweight, Game On Dude will be trying to make amends for a nose loss – to stablemate First Dude – in the 2011 Gold Cup. The last horse to win the Gold Cup a year after finishing second was Ancient Title. The talented California bred won in 1975 after chasing Tree of Knowledge in 1974.
Sutherland will take her usual place atop Game On Dude. She became the first female jockey to ride in the Gold Cup in 2011.
Baffert, who has won the Gold Cup three times – Real Quiet (1999) and Congaree (2003) prior to First Dude – will also be represented by Richard’s Kid.
The 7-year-old Lemon Drop Kid horse out of the Broad Brush mare Tough Broad was successful in his return to the United States in the Prove It Stakes June 8. His 10th career win in his first start for Baffert since October 2, 2010 came after he had lost five times in a span of nearly 13 months in the United Arab Emirates.
Owned by Zabeel Racing International Corporation, Richard’s Kid, a double winner of the Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar, has earned $1,826,385 in 33 starts. The Maryland-bred is making his second Gold Cup appearance. He was third behind Awesome Gem and Rail Trip in 2010.
Runner-up in the Californian, Kettle Corn will be making his Grade 1 debut for owners Lee and Susan Searing’s C R K Stable and trainer John Sadler, who saddled favorite and eventual third place finisher Twirling Candy in this race a year ago.
–Hollywood Park Publicity
Game On Dude/Benoit photo