Females will be well represented in the $500,000 Hollywood
Gold Cup Saturday. Miss Match, a 6-year-old mare, seeks to become the first
distaffer in 43 years to win the Grade I stake at 1 ¼ miles on Cushion Track.
Jockey Chantal Sutherland, who became the first female
jockey to win the Santa Anita Handicap on Game On Dude in March, tries to
become the first female rider to win the coveted Gold Cup in its 72nd
Sutherland, a 35-year-old Canadian native, is seventh in the
standings with 19 wins at the current meet.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, a two-time Gold Cup
winners, will send out a duo of “Dudes,” Game On Dude with Sutherland and First
Dude with Martin Garcia.
The Dudes worked six furlongs in tandem here Sunday morning,
First Dude in 1:11.60 under Garcia and Game On Dude in 1:12.20 with exercise
rider Gaetano Chapparo.
“The Dudes worked very well; they’re ready,” said Baffert.
“We’re going to put Game On Dude on the lead. A mile and a quarter is no
problem for him. The distance should not be a problem for First Dude either.
He’s like Shaq (Shaquille O’Neill), a big intimidating horse.”
John O’Donoghue, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Neil
Drysdale, confirmed that Miss Match would tackle the boys in the Gold Cup. “She
loves the distance,” explained O’Donoghue of the decision. “And she’s in good
form now, coming off a good run.”
The Argentine-bred mare comes off a strong third-place
finish in the Vanity Handicap at 1 1/8 miles June 18, beaten by three-quarters
of a length.
Victorious in six of 22 starts for earnings of $606,614,
Miss Match won the Group I Argentine Oaks at 1 ¼ miles in her native land in
The last female to win the Gold Cup was Princessnesian in
1968, joining Happy Issue in 1944 and Two Lea in 1952.
The last female to start in the Gold Cup, Life Is Sweet,
finished third in
A field of eight to eleven is shaping up. Probable are
Californian Stakes winner Twirling Candy (Joel Rosario), Californian runner-up
Setsuko (Victor Espinoza), Game On Dude (Sutherland), First Dude (Garcia), Miss
Match (Alonso Quinonez), Kentucky invader Dark Cove (Rafael Bejarano) and the
Paddy Gallagher-trained duo of Soul Candy (Garrett Gomez) and Aggie Engineer.
California Cup Classic winner Soul Candy worked six furlongs
in 1:15.40 and Native Diver Handicap winner Aggie Engineer drilled seven
furlongs in 1:26.20 for Gallagher.
Possible are defending champion Awesome Gem, grass star
Acclamation and Jeranimo. Vanity winner Blind Luck was also nominated and is
considered remotely possible.
Don Warren, trainer of Acclamation, said a decision would be
reached this week on the 5-year-old, a two-time winner of both the Jim Murray
and Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicaps on turf.
“He worked very well
at Hollywood Park last week (seven furlongs in 1:25.20 on Cushion Track June
28),” said Warren from his Santa Anita base. “He will work again at Santa Anita
in the next couple of days before we decide. It’s just a matter of deciding
whether we want to take him off turf, where he has been doing so well. We want
to do what’s best for the horse.”
Awesome Gem, an 8-year-old gelding with more than
$2.5-million in earnings, finished second in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie
Meadows in Iowa on June 25. “I’m not sure yet,” said trainer Craig Dollase on
running the veteran back so quickly. “I’ve got until Wednesday (entry day).”
Trainer Mike Pender was pleased with a four-fulong work in
48.60 here Sunday by Jeranimo, a Grade II winner on synthetic and turf. “He had
a snappy drill, but we’re still on the fence,” said Pender.
Twirling Candy, victorious in seven of nine starts, will try
to make amends for a fifth-place finish as the favorite in the roughly run
Santa Anita Handicap, his only outing at 1 ¼ miles.
“A mile and a quarter should be no problem,” said trainer
John Sadler confidently after the 4-year-old colt worked seven furlongs in