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2023 Hollywood Gold Cup Day

Juan Hernandez celebrates aboard Defunded after winning the 2023 Hollywood Gold Cup
Date: 5/29/2023

The feature race on Memorial Day at Santa Anita is the $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) a 1 1/4 mile trip over the main track for the top older horses on the west coast. Conditions were typical for Southern California in late May for the 10,524 fans in attendance, with cloudy skies, temperatures in the low 70's, with the main track fast and the turf course firm. Last year's runner-up Defunded was sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the field of 6 off his Californian Stakes (G2) win after finishing second in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) and third in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1). In to challenge him included 2-1 second choice Country Grammer, 7th in the Dubai World Cup (G1) after finishing a close second in the Saudi Cup (G1), and 5-1 third choice Senor Buscador, fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) last out.

Down the stretch in the Hollywood Gold Cup

Jockey Juan Hernandez sent Defunded to the front first time by through fractions of 23.89, 47.59, 1:11.83, and 1:36.27 while pressed by 28-1 Piroli and stalked by 37-1 Kiss Today Goodbye. In the stretch Defunded continued to lead by a length, finishing a length in front of Piroli in 2:02.85. It was a long 3 1/4 lengths back to Kiss Today Goodbye third.

Pgm  Horse                 Jockey       Win  Place  Show
 4   Defunded            Hernandez     3.20   2.60  2.10
 5   Piroli              Desormeaux          10.40  6.80
 6   Kiss Today Goodbye  Berrios                    8.20

Winning Time:  2:02.85

$1 Exacta 4-5                30.20
$1 Trifecta 4-5-6           179.30
$1 Superfecta 4-5-6-1       531.80

Results Chart from DRF.

Left: Defunded in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Bob Baffert, celebrating his record ninth Hollywood Gold Cup said, "I would have like to seen Country Grammer second and run 1-2 but Defunded is a tough horse. This horse today he got the lead and he wasn't going to let anybody pass him. He is just improving and getting better. I was happy to see him get a mile and a quarter." Co-owner Karl Watson said, "It is fantastic. Defunded has won two Grade I's now, it is just unbelievable, this is great." Co-owner Mike Pegram added, "It is a tough game, so when you win you never apologize and this horse is getting good so we are going to enjoy it."

Right: Defunded in the paddock before the race. Winning jockey Juan Hernandez said, "Today he was very professional.  He broke really comfortably.  He pulling me on the back side, which is a really good sign.  I waited until the last quarter and he switched leads and gave me two good jumps toward the wire.  He really didn't get tired. (Runner-up) Piroli is a nice horse.  I've ridden him before.  He likes to go outside, but I had a lot of confidence in my horse for the final push to the wire.  This is the first time I have won two Grade 1's in one day."

Left: Second place finisher Piroli in the paddock before the race. Jockey Kent Desormeaux said, "He tried to win. Congrats to Defunded. I went after him. I tried to pass him, and Defunded wouldn't let him."

Right: Third place finisher Kiss Today Goodbye in the paddock before the race. Trainer Eric Kruljac said, "Hector (Berrios) gave him a good ride. He's a difficult ride and has his moments. He kept hustling him. This is his best race by a ton."

Macadamia winning the Gamely Stakes

Kicking off the Monday stakes trio was the $400,000 Gamely Stakes (G1) featuring a field of 7 older fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the turf. Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G3) winner Queen Goddess was sent off as the 4-5 favorite off her 6th place finish in the Jenny Wiley (G1) at Keeneland. In to challenge her included 4-1 second choice School Dance, second in the Royal Heroine (G2), and 6-1 third choice Macadamia, winner of the Wilshire (G3).

Jockey Flavien Prat sent School Dance to the lead first time by through fractions of 24.06, 48.08, and 1:11.87 while pressed by 19-1 Bellamore and stalked by Queen Goddess. Turning for home School Dance tired allowing Queen Goddess to inherit the lead through 1 mile in 1:36.17, but Macadamia, 6th early under Tiago Pereira, came out 3 wide and rallied to win by a length over late-running Quattroelle in 1:48.01. It was a nose back to favorite Queen Goddess third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Left: Macadamia in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Phil D'Amato said, "It's a great feeling. She is a nice filly.  I have to give Tiago a lot of credit for just getting on her every week just breezing her and developing her. She was a quirky kind of backwards filly when we got her. She just needed to acclimate to North America. She's taken her time and now she is a Grade 1 winner. (Pereira) is a great hand, a great horseman.  When he first came here we won a lot of graded stakes together. We kind of went our own separate ways, I don't know for what reason, but he's come back with a fury. He has a great attitude in the morning and I think it translates to the horses."

Right: Macadamia in the post parade. Winning jockey Tiago Pereira said, "Last time out, my horse was really aggressive and a little green.  I've been working her and getting her to relax more and today she was really relaxed and on her game.  I saw everyone in front of us and I was going to follow (Queen Goddess) until the three eighths pole.  She's a really good filly. When it was time to go, she responded very well.  I'm thankful for these great opportunities and I continue to work very hard."

Left: Second place finisher Quattroelle heads back to the barn after the race. The Jeff Mullins trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 5 seconds, and 4 thirds in 17 starts, earning $512,772 for owners Red Baron's Barn and Rancho Temescal.

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Queen Goddess in the paddock before the race. The Mike McCarthy trainee improved her record to 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds in 13 starts, earning $817,080 for owners Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber

Exaulted winning the Shoemaker Mile Stakes

Immediately before the Hollywood Gold Cup was the $500,000 Shoemaker Mile Stakes (G1) featuring a field of 11 older horses going 1 mile on the turf with the winner earning automatic entry into the Breeders' Cup Mile under the "Win and You're In" Challenge Series promotion. Frank Kilroe Mile (G1) fourth place finisher Hong Kong Harry was sent off as the 8-5 favorite off his second place finish in the Old Forester Turf Classic (G1). In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Exaulted, winner of the American Stakes (G3), and 15-2 third choice Cabo Spirit, third in the Kilroe Mile then fourth in the Maker's Mark Mile (G1).

Jockey Edwin Maldonado sent 31-1 Lamplighter Jack to the lead first time by through fractions of 22.88 and 46.10 while pressed by 39-1 Flavius and stalked by Exaulted. On the far turn Lamplighter Jack tired allowing Flavius to take over through 3/4 in 1:10.09 before tiring in the stretch. Exaulted came out 3 wide under Juan Hernandez to gain the lead through 7f in 1:22.14, and held off late-running 41-1 Irideo to win by 1/2 a length in 1:34.08. It was another length back to favorite Hong Kong Harry third.

Results Chart from DRF. 0

Left: Exaulted in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Juan Hernandez said, "This horse has been improving every race.  He is always in a good position.  He broke really sharp today and I took him back.  At the 3/8, I asked him to pick it up and it was time to go.  I passed a horse to get the lead and he didn't let other horses pass him.  Peter Eurton has done a really good job with this horse.  This horse really loves the turf, so maybe the turf has been the difference."

Right: Exaulted returns after the race. Winning trainer Peter Eurton said, "I'm just so happy, so pleased to do it for (Lee Searing). This is the kind of race you want to win ever since you're a kid. I knew Bill (Shoemaker), we played golf with my father-in-law. Those two things together make it a great day. I've never done any good anywhere else, so I'm glad (this year's Breeders' Cup) is here." Owner Lee Searing added, "(Peter) looks like a genius. To take the horse off the dirt and put him on the grass and win four in a row. I'm feeling awful good, winning the Shoemaker Mile is pretty fun. You talk about this race, the Gamely, the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup you're talking about races I'd love to win."

Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Irideo in the post parade. Trainer Marcelo Polanco said, "(Hector Berrios) rode him perfectly. We wanted to make a move and he made it."

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Hong Kong Harry in the paddock before the race. Jockey Flavien Prat said, "The pace was fair and I thought I was behind the horses that would make a move. I was stuck. I made a nice move, but it was too late."

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