A repeat victory by Game On Dude
in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, a fourth local training title for John Sadler, the first tie – between Rafael Bejarano and Edwin Maldonado - atop the jockey standings in 67 years, a record-tying performance by trainer Mike Puype, milestones for Bejarano and fellow jockey Victor Espinoza and trainer Mike Mitchell, plus a trio of female firsts on the final Friday night card in track history were among the highlights of the Spring/Summer meet at Betfair Hollywood Park.
The 49-day season – the last S/S meet at the fabled track which opened in June, 1938 - concluded Sunday.
Field size increased. The average was 7.59 horses per race, compared to an average field size of 7.48 horses per race during the 2012 S/S meet.
The rest of the statistical figures are being compiled and will be released in the near future.
Interest remained high in the Pick Six on the nine selected Saturdays during the season where the pool was guaranteed at $150,000.
Spurred by the lure of a 2013 Toyota Prius – courtesy of Toyota of Orange - being awarded to a single ticket holder – provided the ticket was purchased at Betfair Hollywood Park or through Television Games Network (TVG) - the average Pick Six pool for those days was $265,401.
This was an increase of nearly $22,000 over the 2012 Autumn meet when the $150,000 guaranteed Pick Six – and Prius bonus - was first offered. The average pool size for the half-dozen Saturdays last Autumn was $243,771.
Introduced at the beginning of the 2011 Spring/Summer meet, the Players’ Pick 5 – with a reduced takeout of 14% - remained popular.
The average handle on the 50-cent minimum wager, which is offered daily on the first five races, was $290,774 during the 2013 S/S season.
Owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernie Schiappa and trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Game On Dude became only the third horse – joining California-breds and three-time winners Native Diver and Lava Man – to win the Gold Cup more than once.
The one-length victory under 127 pounds – the most by a Gold Cup winner since Perrault carried that impost in 1982 – earned the 6-year-old Awesome Again gelding Horse of the Meet honors in the annual media poll.
Bejarano and Espinoza reached the 3,000 victory plateau during the meet. Bejarano hit the magic number May 11 aboard the Baffert-trained Ondine while Espinoza’s 3,000th win came atop Flashy Delight May 31.
Obviously’s gate-to-wire victory in the Grade I, $300,000 Shoemaker Mile June 29 was the 900th at Hollywood Park for Mitchell. The only trainer with more local victories is Bobby Frankel. The Hall of Famer, who died in 2009, won 952 races.
The Shoemaker Mile was the first of three Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In’’ races during the S/S meet.
An Irish-bred gelding, Obviously received a fees-paid berth in the Breeders’ Cup Mile by virtue of his Shoemaker success.
Later that day, Centralinteligence earned the same reward for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile with his 8-1 upset in the Grade I, $250,000 Triple Bend Handicap.
Book Review won the last of the “Win and You’re In’’ events, taking the Grade II, $200,000 A Gleam Handicap July 13. The 4-year-old Giant’s Causeway filly was rewarded with fees-paid entry into the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.
The 30th Breeders’ Cup will be held Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita.
Sadler, who won twice the final day of the meet, earned his latest training title at Betfair Hollywood Park with 29 victories, five more than Puype. Sadler also led the S/S meet in 2008 and Autumn meets in 2007 and 2009.
Puype, who had three winners closing day, tied a record established by Allen Drumheller, Sr. (July 4-5, 1955) by winning six consecutive races in a span of three days (June 20-22).
Mitchell and Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer tied for most stakes winners among trainers. Each finished with five. Baffert led in earnings with $1,745,981.
Kristine Leahy, a sports anchor/reporter for KBCS/KCAL Television, became the first female to serve as a track announcer at Betfair Hollywood Park when she called a pair of races July 5.
The first of those races was won by 10-pound apprentice jockey Cecily Evans, the first victory of her professional career. Evans guided Wrinkle Room to a neck win over favored Rossi Reserve.
Some 30 minutes later, Karen Headley, a longtime assistant to her father Bruce Headley, earned her first victory as a trainer when Keep Movin’ won a $20,000 maiden claimer.
Kosta Hronis’ Hronis Racing LLC was the leading owner in terms of victories with 11 and earnings with $479,190.
Bejarano, the defending S/S champion, and Maldonado, who won the 2012 Autumn title, finished in a dead lock with 51 victories, one more than Joe Talamo.
It was the first tie at the top of the jockey standings at a Spring/Summer meet since Ralph Neves and Jack Westrope both won 56 races in 1946.
Talamo led with 10 stakes victories while Bejarano was tops in earnings with $3,014,873.
Racing will return to Betfair Hollywood Park later this year for the final Autumn meet. The season is scheduled to begin Thursday, Nov. 7 and continue through Sunday, Dec. 22.