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Will Twirling Candy Go the Distance in Gold Cup?

Twirling Candy will seek the second Grade I victory of his career in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Saturday at Hollywood Park.


A Grade I at 1 ¼ miles over Cushion Track, the Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’’ race. The Breeders’ Cup nominated winner of the Gold Cup is guaranteed a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. Additionally, the winner will have pre-entry and entry fees waived and given a $10,000 travel allowance.


Fans coming to Hollywood Park to see the Gold Cup in person will have an opportunity to enter the Breeders’ Cup Classic Ownership Challenge. All those who enter the contest will become a virtual owner of the Gold Cup winner. If that horse also captures the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the virtual owners will divide $250,000.


There is also a fedora giveaway – one per paid admission while supplies last – and a Gold Cup hat contest with a first prize of $500.


The Gold Cup, which will be run for the 72nd time, is the eighth and will be televised by ESPN (4-5 p.m. PDT). Scheduled post time for the Gold Cup is 4:40 p.m.


Owned by breeder Jenny Craig’s Family Trust, William S. Farish and Marty Wygod and trained by John Sadler, Twirling Candy won the Californian June 4 despite an eventful trip. The victory was the seventh in nine starts for the son of Candy Ride and the Chester House mare House of Danzing. He’s earned $684,900.


Fifth as the prohibitive favorite in the Santa Anita Handicap March 5 in his only previous attempt at 10 furlongs, Twirling Candy is trying to become the first horse to win the Californian and Gold Cup in the same year since Lava Man in 2005.


Bob Baffert, who is well on his way to his first training title at a Spring/Summer meet, will be represented by Game On Dude and First Dude.


A 4-year-old Awesome Again gelding out of the Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure, Game On Dude is owned by a partnership that includes Diamond Pride LLC, the Lanni Family Trust and Mercedes Stable LLC.


Dismissed at nearly 15-1 in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 5, Game On Dude prevailed by a nose, then survived a lengthy stewards’ inquiry. He has been second and third in two subsequent starts out of town – the Charles Town Classic at Charles Town April 16 and the Lone Star Park Handicap in Texas May 30.


Bred in Kentucky by Frank Stronach’s Adena Springs, Game On Dude has won four of 10, earning $924,658. He has never raced at Hollywood Park and would be the first horse to win the Santa Anita Handicap and the Gold Cup in the same year since Lava Man in 2007.


Chantal Sutherland, who was aboard for the Big `Cap win, will ride Game On Dude Saturday, making her the first female jockey to ride in the Gold Cup.


First Dude, a 4-year-old son of Stephen Got Even and the Smart Strike mare Run Sarah Run, has won two of three since joining the Baffert barn earlier this year.


Owned by breeder Donald Dizney, First Dude collected his first graded victory when a nose winner of the Grade III Alysheba Stakes May 6 at Churchill Downs.


Second in the Preakness and third in the Blue Grass, Belmont Stakes and Haskell Invitational in 2010, First Dude has won three of 16 and banked $1,142,140.


Baffert, who became the eighth trainer to win at least 500 races at Hollywood Park when Glamorista won the seventh July 4, is seeking his third victory in the Gold Cup. The Hall of Famer has won previously with Real Quiet (1999) and Congaree (2003).


Awesome Gem, who upset Rail Trip with a ground-saving trip in 2010, will try to become the third multiple Gold Cup winner, joining Native Diver and Lava Man, both three-time winners.


Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds and trained by Craig Dollase, Awesome Gem has won nine of 44 while earning $2,568,270. This will be his first start in Southern California since he was fifth in the Grade I Goodwood during the Oak Tree/Hollywood Park meet last Oct. 2.


The 8-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again and the Pentelicus mare Piano has since started at five different tracks – Golden Gate Fields, Charles Town, Churchill Downs, Lone Star Park and Prairie Meadows. His lone win came in the Grade III Lone Star Park Handicap May 30.


Fresh off a big Spring/Summer meet at Churchill Downs, trainer Ken McPeek has sent Dark Cove to California in search of a first graded win.


Claimed out of a $16,000 maiden race last Aug. 16 at Saratoga, Dark Cove has subsequently won four of eight for McPeek and owners Joseph Engelhart and Magdalena Racing.


A 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro colt out of the Kris S. mare Crystal Cove, Dark Cove is 2-for-2 over synthetic surfaces – both over the Keeneland Polytrack. He has won four of 11 and earned $182,447. He has started twice in graded races, failing to hit the board in the Commonwealth Turf last fall at Churchill Downs and the Fort Lauderdale – also on turf - in January at Gulfstream Park.


Second in the Californian and the Santa Anita Handicap in his two most recent races, Setsuko is another 4-year-old looking for his first graded success. Owned and bred by the Wertheimer brothers and trained by Richard Mandella, the son of Pleasantly Perfect and the Mr. Prospector mare Dance With Grace has won once in 13 races while earning $425,686.


Setsuko’s sole win was over Cushion Track. He defeated maidens by three lengths as the 1-2 favorite Dec. 17, 2009.


Like Baffert, Mandella has won the Gold Cup twice, going back-to-back with Siphon (1996) and Gentlemen (1997).


Fourth in the Californian for trainer Paddy Gallagher, Soul Candy is a 5-year-old son of Birdonthewire and the Lil Tyler mare Just Satisfaction.  He’s won four of 15 and has a bankroll of $310,300. Bred in California by Madera Thoroughbreds, who co-owns the gelding with E Z Eight Racing Stable, Soul Candy has lost five in a row since winning the California Cup Classic last Oct. 30 during the Oak Tree/Hollywood Park meet.


Miss Match will be the first female to start in the Gold Cup since Life Is Sweet finished third in 2009. The last female to win the race was Princessnesian in 1968.


Owned by Matthew Cloros and trained by Neil Drysdale, Miss Match, an Argentine bred, has won six of 22 and earned $606,614.


Third – beaten less than one length – by Blind Luck in the Vanity Handicap June 18, Miss Match is already a Grade I winner in 2011. She won the Santa Margarita by a head over Switch as a 45-1 longshot March 12 at Santa Anita.


From inside out, the field for the Hollywood Gold Cup: Twirling Candy, Joel Rosario rides, 122 pounds; Miss Match, Joe Talamo, 110; Setsuko, Victor Espinoza, 115; Game On Dude, Chantal Sutherland, 118; Awesome Gem, David Flores, 116; Soul Candy, Garrett Gomez, 114; First Dude, Martin Garcia, 116 and Dark Cove, Rafael Bejarano, 115.


 

 

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Older Comments about Will Twirling Candy Go the Distance in Gold Cup?...

I think whether or not Twirling Candy shows he can stay the 1-1/4 of the Hollywood Gold Cup will go a long way in determining whether or not we'll see him at Churchill Downs in November, representing America in this year's Breeders Cup Classic? JMO.

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