Photo: Benoit Photo
Game On Dude was seeking to join an elite group with a third win the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (formerly the G1 Hollywood Gold Cup), but history would not be made today, as 14-1 Majestic Harbor ran away with his first grade 1 victory.
Out of the gate quick as a Quarter Horse from his rail post, the popular gelding made use of his typical early speed but was shortly joined by fellow speedster Fury Kapcori. Sensing a developing speed duel, jockey Mike Smith took up Game On Dude and allowed Fury Kapcori to establish the lead. Majestic Harbor and Clubhouse Ride took up tactical stalking positions a little further back with the rest of the field spread out behind them.
With no pressure from "The Dude," Fury Kapcori set ambitious splits of 22:38 and 45:39. With an easy 3 length advantage, it looked as though the 4-year old colt was going to steal the race on the lead, but as the field hit the far turn, his advantage quickly diminished before completely disappearing. Game On Dude took the first shot at Fury Kapcori, but his run stalled before it really even got going. With both speedsters folding faster than an amateur poker player at a table full of professionals, it was hardly difficult for Clubhouse Ride to slip up the rail and Majestic Harbor to swing wide and overtake the duo.
The leader by the one mile call, Majestic Harbor made it look easy as he opened up on his rivals, cruising to an easy 6 1/4 length victory. He stopped the clock in 2.01:53 for the 1 1/4 mile trip. Clubhouse Ride, who followed the winner all around the track, finished a clear second. Imperative closed for third and Game On Dude hung around for fourth. The order of finish was completed by Lideris, Fury Kapcori and Salto Del Indio.
Off 14-1 post time odds, Majestic Harbor paid his happy backers $30.80/$10.60/$5.40 for a $2 win bet. Clubhouse Ride returned $5.60/$4.00, and a $2 show bet on Imperative was worth $4.00. The $1 exacta paid $68.80, the $1 trifecta returned $340 and the $1 superfecta was worth $812.50.
According to trainer Sean McCarthy, everything worked out in their favor today. “It worked out perfectly for us (pace-wise). The horse had a great week, a great 10 days. The T’s were crossed, the I’s were dotted, and you just hope that when you lead him over there, he fires, and he fired. I couldn’t ask for a better trip, I couldn’t ask for things to have been any better,” he stated.
McCarthy was a bit on the fence as to where Majestic Harbor may race next. “We’ve kind of got a cushion right now, so we’ll just wait and see how he comes out of the race. The Pacific Classic (at Del Mar Aug. 24) certainly is a race you’ve got to take a look at . . . We might wait for that race, he ran such a big race today. He trains well over that Polytrack at Del Mar. I’ve never run him on it but I had him on it a couple years training over it, so we’ll see how it plays out," he explained.
By Rockport Harbor, and out of the French Deputy mare, Champagne Royale, Majestic Harbor recorded his 6th win from 23 career starts and improved his overall record to 23: 6-6-4. The $300,000 winner's share of the $500,000 purse pushed the horse's total earnings to $655,764. Purchased for a mere $20,000 at the Keeneland 2009 September Yearling Sale by Sean McCarthy for Gallant Stable, Majestic Harbor has proven to be quite the bargain. Always a useful type, the son of Rockport Harbor is in the midst of his best season yet, and by virtue of today's win, earned himself an automatic berth in this year's edition of the Breeders' Cup Classic.