Chantal Sutherland celebrates aboard Game On Dude after winning the 2012 Hollywood Gold Cup
The $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Handicap (G1) at Betfair Hollywood Park, features the best older horses on the west coast. It is also a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race for the Breeders' Cup Classic to be run at Santa Anita on November 3. A field of 7 went to post for this 1 1/4 mile Cushion Track feature on Saturday, under sunny skies and with temperatures in the low 80's. Californian (G2) and San Antonio (G2) stakes winner Game On Dude was sent off as the 2-5 favorite. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Richard's Kid, off his win in the Prove It Stakes after finishing fourth in the Godolphin Mile (G2), and 7-1 third choice Kettle Corn, second in the Californian (G2) after finishing third in the Mervyn Leroy (G2).
Game On Dude draws away in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Game On Dude Sutherland 2.80 2.20 2.10 2 Richard's Kid Bejarano 2.60 2.10 3 Kettle Corn Gomez 2.60 Winning Time: 2:04.19 $1 Exacta 6-2 2.70 $1 Trifecta 6-2-3 5 30 $1 Superfecta 6-2-3-4 17.90Results Chart
Left: Game On Dude in the winner's circle. Jockey Chantal Sutherland said, "I could actually hear Rafael yell 'I'm coming Chantal' at the 1/4 pole. We're friends, and it was just like 'I'm coming to get you,' like a game of tag. (Game On Dude) wanted to go after (Spud Spivens) early and kept fighting and fighting, but then he kind of chilled out a little bit. When he started getting a little pushy about it, I had to let him do his thing. Down the lane, I didn't want to hit him or push on him, but I was getting a little nervous. It's exciting, I feel really honored (to be the first female jockey to win the Hollywood Gold Cup). It's pretty cool. I hope I'm one of many more to come."
Right: Game On Dude heads in the paddock before the race. Trainer Bob Baffert, who trained the first two finishers, said, "He sort of needs the competition. It looked like Richard's Kid would get him, but he dug in. That was a tough Gold Cup. Those are Grade 1 horses. We had to run one-two. They're two really good horses. That longshot (Spud Spivens) made them go pretty brisk. Game On Dude was getting a little tired, but he needs the competition. We'll take him to Del Mar to see if he likes the track. Last year, he really didn't train well there. If he trains well, I'll run him in the Pacific Classic. If he doesn't, I'll just freshen him up and wait for the fall. He loves Santa Anita and the Breeders' Cup (Classic) has been our goal."
Left: Second place finisher Richard's Kid returns after the race. Jockey Rafael Bejarano said, "No complaints. The other horse was just a little too good. (Game On Dude) was really comfortable and by the 3/8 he was completely in hand. I thought I was going to be second anyway but I had to try something. He gave me a big kick. He tried hard and never quit. The winner and my horse were the only two that were running at the end. The last time he ran was to prepare for this race. He'll be a little tighter next time. I don't think he was 100% today, but he tried really hard. The winner was much the best." Trainer Bob Baffert said Richard's Kid would go next in the Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar, which he won in 2009 and 2010.
Right: Third place finisher Kettle Corn in the post parade. Jockey Garrett Gomez said, "I had to move a little earlier than I wanted. Bejarano started putting pressure on me and once he did that I had to ask him for everything he had. He finished willingly but wasn't able to catch the front two."
The battle down the stretch in the Royal Heroine Mile
Jockey Victor Espinoza sent 13-1 Briecat to the lead first time by and she set fractions of 24.26, 47.84, and 1:11.47 over the firm course while as many as 1 1/2 lengths in front of 8-1 Mega Dream stalking her in second. Entering the stretch, Briecat continued to lead, getting 7/8 in 1:23.14, but Quiet Oasis, 5th early, came out 3 wide for run. A three-horse photo ensued, with Quiet Oasis outfinishing Mega Dream by a head in 1:35.06, and another neck back to pacesetter Briecat third. Favorite All Star Heart trailed throughout and failed to rally, finishing last.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 5 Quiet Oasis Gutierrez 8.00 3.80 3.20 7 Mega Dream Gomez 7.20 5.20 6 Briecat Espinoza 7.20 Winning Time: 1:35.06 $1 Exacta 5-7 31.10 $1 Trifecta 5-7-6 340.70 $1 Superfecta 5-7-6-8 1,390.80Results Chart
Left: Quiet Oasis in the winner's circle.
Right: Winning jockey Mario Gutierrez celebrates aboard Quiet Oasis after the race. Gutierrez said, "This is just great. I've had the opportunity to ride this filly three times. Last time she was a little bit short. She didn't fight me at all today and was a real professional. I've been working her in the mornings, and I knew she was really feeling good for this race. She's been settling down really nicely in her works. I thought if she could settle like that in the afternoon, nobody could beat her." Trainer Ben Cecil added, "The problem with her early on is that she was very head strong and rank. The nice thing is she's gotten more and more relaxed. She hasn't done much wrong since she's been here. Her one not-so-great race was the Matriarch and she really didn't run a bad race. She was still plenty aggressive at that time. My exercise rider has done a really good job of getting her to settle."
Left: Quiet Oasis in the post parade. Owner J. Paul Reddam said, "In England she had made a little bit of a noise, but we weren't worried about that. We bought her from our trainer (Brian Meehan) in England and she's stretched out like a pro. The other difference is that now she's able to relax more and settle. When she first got here, she was very, very keen and would kind of take herself out of the race. She's like a different race horse now and I would give full credit to Ben (Cecil) and his team."
Right: Second place finisher Mega Dream returns after the race. Jockey Garrett Gomez said, "She was wound up real tight. If we can work on her mind a little bit and get her settled down, I think we'll be in good shape. It was a good performance and she traveled well. She hadn't run really well going two turns before, but I think it's more mental than anything."
Left: Third place finisher Briecat returns after the race. Trainer Vladimir Cerin said, "Well, at least she gets an "A" for effort."
Right: Eighth place finisher and beaten favorite All Star Heart in the post parade. The 8-5 favorite sat 6th early 5 lengths off the pace under regular rider Brice Blanc, but when asked at the top of the stretch, did not respond and faded to last beaten 6 1/4 lengths. The Ron McAnally trainee has a record of 6 wins, 1 second, and 1 third in 17 starts, earning $305,385 for owner-breeder Gerald Gibbs.
After the third race on Saturday, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another, with jockey Mario Gutierrez in the irons, paraded in front of the grandstand and posed in the winner's circle with owner J. Paul Reddam and trainer Doug O'Neill. Before the races, O'Neill and Gutierrez signed autographs for fans. O'Neill said of the long lineup of fans, "It just tells you how many people really love this horse and how horse racing is still alive. I know a lot of people want to throw dirt on the sport and through this I've learned that horse racing is still alive. This is an amazing horse that people fell in love with, including us of course. This is a very special moment for all of us. Looking back at the great year he gave us, it's really a time for all of us to celebrate just a wonderful horse and what he did for all of us. It's been nothing but joy."
O'Neill said, "It's sad. We all wanted so badly for him to stay in the United States. I was actually pushing for him to stay in California, but there was just very little interest. He's going to a first-class place. He's going to get the best mares, he's going to be super well taken care of. We're going to stay on top of everything and make sure if they have any hiccups or any questions, we'll be there to support them." Gutierrez added, "He absolutely took me to places and make my dreams come real. For that I will be grateful my whole life. He's going for his second career, he's not hurt, he's happy and healthy. Now we hopefully can see in the future one of his babies running and competing in the big races too."
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