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Flavien Prat aboard Country Grammer after winning the 2021 Hollywood Gold Cup
The feature race on Memorial Day at Santa Anita is the $300,000 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, with sunny skies, temperatures in the low 80's, with the main track fast and the turf course firm. Country Grammer was sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 7 off his close second place finish in the Californian Stakes (G2) in April. In to challenge him included 2-1 second choice Express Train, 3rd in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) after finishing second in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1), and 3-1 third choice Royal Ship, winner of the Californian after finishing 5th in the Frank Kilroe Mile (G1).
Country Grammer (inside) battles Royal Ship in the stretch
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Country Grammer Prat 5.60 3.20 2.60 1 Royal Ship Smith 4.20 2.80 7 Express Train Hernandez 2.40 Winning Time: 2:02.23 $1 Exacta 2-1 9.10 $1 Trifecta 2-1-7 20.80 $1 Superfecta 2-1-7-5 52.70 Results Chart from DRF.
Left: Country Grammer in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Flavien Prat said, "He ran super well. He broke well and I was able to get myself in a good spot. I was a little bit worried when I saw Mike Smith (aboard Royal Ship) on the outside of me, I wish I could have kept him inside. Mike took the lead on me, but my horse was really game to come back."
Right: The trophy presentation for the Hollywood Gold Cup with winning trainer Bob Baffert far right. Baffert said, "Elliott Walden and WinStar bought him to bring to California because they figured 1 1/4 mile was his distance. His form on the dirt was really good last year. It looked like he was beat today, but he kicked it in. I'm so happy for WinStar Group. It's exciting. He ran a big race last time and just got beat. He was really ready to go today and I think the distance was the key. He got it done with a lot of class and determination."
Left: Second place finisher Royal Ship in the post parade. The Richard Mandella trainee improved his record to 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds in 13 starts, earning $263,305 for owners Fox Hill Farms and Siena Farm.
Right: Third place finisher Express Train in the paddock before the race. The John Shirreffs trainee improved his record to 3 wins, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds in 11 starts, earning $509,300 for owner C R K Stable.
Maxim Rate winning the Gamely Stakes
Jockey Flavien Prat sent Charmaine's Mia to the lead first time by through fractions of 22.82, 45.94, and 1:09.86 while pressed by 8-1 Keeper Ofthe Stars and stalked by Going to Vegas. Turning for home Charmaine's Mia continued to lead to midstretch through 1 mile in 1:34.36. 14-1 Maxim Rate, 4th early under Juan Hernandez, came out 3 wide for room and rallied to win by 1/2 a length over La Signare in 1:46.61. It was another 1/2 a length back to 13-1 Bodhicitta third, while Charmaine's Mia tired in the final 1/16 to finish 6th beaten 3 1/4 lengths.
Results Chart from DRF.
Left: Maxim Rate in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Simon Callaghan said, "We knew she was training really well coming into this race. We felt that the set up will be perfect. A mile and an eighth, back here in California I think is totally her game. We had some speed to run at and it actually turned out exactly how we wrote up the race before. The Grade 1 was our main aim and to pull it off is fantastic for all of the owners, all of the Slam Dunk Team, everyone involved. Now we'll just space the races out and it will be nice to get to the Breeders' Cup."
Right: Maxim Rate returns after the race. Winning jockey Juan Hernandez said, "I just watched a couple of replays of her. It looked like she was a really nice filly. She broke out of there, really clean break, she relaxed really well for me. She's a very classy filly, you can do whatever you want with her. I had a really good trip all the race and I just waited for the quarter pole to start working on her and when I asked her to go she took off. She's a very nice filly."
Left: Second place finisher La Signare in the paddock before the race. The Brendan Walsh trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 3 seconds, and 4 thirds in 18 starts, earning $405,576 for owners Madaket Stables, Tim and Anna Cambron, and Bradley Thoroughbreds.
Right: Third place finisher Bodhicitta returns after the race. The Richard Baltas trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds in 17 starts, earning $304,308 for owner Calvin Nguyen.
Sixth place finisher and beaten favorite Charmaine's Mia in the post parade. The Phil D'Amato trainee has a record of 7 wins, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds in 29 starts, earning $472,476 for owners Agave Racing Stable, Medallion Racing, and Rockin Robin Racing Stables.
Smooth Like Strait winning the Shoemaker Mile Stakes
Jockey Umberto Rispoli sent Smooth Like Strait to the lead first time by and he set fractions of 23.46, 46.43, and 1:10.09 while pressed by 19-1 Restrainedvengence and stalked by Whisper Not. Turning for home, Smooth Like Strait opened up a 3 1/2 length lead through 7f in 1:22.04, and easily held off late-running Say the Word to win by 1 1/2 lengths in 1:34.19. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Restrainedvengence third.
Results Chart from DRF.
Left: Smooth Like Strait returns after the race. Winning trainer Mike McCarthy said, "Today feels very gratifying because the horse shows up and runs hard every time. I don't think he was getting the respect he deserved earlier in the year, but he showed up and put together a nice campaign. He was so relaxed for Umberto out there today. The horse responded beautifully to Umberto, they have become quite the partnership. I'm super happy for the horse and the connections. I've had an immense amount of faith in this horse all along, and I really believe that there are big things coming for him later in the year."
Right: The trophy presentation for the Shoemaker Mile. Winning jockey Umberto Rispoli said, "I was just waiting for a Grade 1 for this horse he deserves so much. So does the owner, Michael Cannon. He always says, 'Don't worry, we're gonna go to the Breeders' Cup'. He was positive from the first day. I was hoping to see him today but, I'll probably see him in Del Mar. I'm so glad for Michael (McCarthy) and the groom, who treats him like a son, also the work rider, they do an amazing job with this horse. He's so clever, so smart, he deserves a Grade 1. I love the way he runs, puts himself in the race, doesn't cheat and is a fighter. That's what we jockeys like, we fight with them and go down to the wire together and get the job done."
Left: Second place finisher Say the Word in the paddock before the race. The Phil D'Amato trainee improved his record to 6 wins, 4 seconds, and 5 thirds in 30 starts, earning $669,292 for owner-breeder Sam-Son Farm and co-owner Agave Racing Stable.
Right: Third place finisher Restrainedvengence in the paddock. The Val Brinkerhoff trainee improved his record to 8 wins, 4 seconds, and 3 thirds in 30 starts, earning $708,182 for owners Kelly Brinkerhoff and Bob Grayson Jr.
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