Defunded and Country Grammer lead Hollywood Gold Cup

Defunded and Country Grammer lead Hollywood Gold Cup
Photo: Santa Anita / Benoit Photo

Currently tied with the legendary Charlie Whittingham with eight lifetime wins in the prestigious Grade 1, $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup, Bob Baffert will seek to shatter yet another American racing standard on Monday at Santa Anita as he sends out the potent one-two combination of Defunded and Country Grammer as a field of six 3-year-olds and up go 1 1/4 miles.

With the immortal Seabiscuit winning the inaugural running at Hollywood Park in 1938, the Gold Cup will be run for the 85th time on Memorial Day. Baffert, whose first Gold Cup win came with Real Quiet in 1999, notched his most recent win with Country Grammer here at Santa Anita in 2021.

Click here for Santa Anita entries and results.

A 5-year-old gelding by Dialed In, Defunded comes off a facile three length win at 1-5 in the mile and one eighth Californian (G2) on April 22. In a tough call, he gets top billing with a solid recent race to his credit. Second in last year’s Gold Cup, Defunded showed a new dimension in winning the Californian, as he hopped at the break and was thus required to settle well off the pace and rally for the win.

On or near the early lead in most of his races, Defunded, with the Californian victory in-hand, approaches this year’s Gold Cup at the absolute top of his game. A winner of the Awesome Again (G1) at a mile and one eighth five starts back on Oct. 1, Defunded seeks his fourth graded stakes win on Monday.

Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Defunded has a win and a second place finish at a mile and one quarter and is 16: 6-4-2 overall with earnings of $1,348,100.

Second two years in a row in the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) and a winner of last year’s $6 million Dubai World Cup, Country Grammer ranks as the fifth leading Thoroughbred money earner among horses who raced in North America with $14,897,320.

A narrow second two starts back in the Saudi Cup on Feb. 25, Country Grammer was never a factor when beaten 13 3/4 lengths in the Dubai World Cup (G1) on March 25.

A smashing 4 1/2 length winner of the San Antonio (G2) here three starts back on Dec. 26, Country Grammer, who was ridden in his last three starts by the departed Frankie Dettori, will get the services of Flavien Prat, who was aboard for Country Grammer’s 2021 Gold Cup victory.

Owned by Zedan Racing Stables, Inc., Winstar Farm and Commonwealth Thoroughbreds, Country Grammer is a 6-year-old full horse by Tonalist out of the Forestry mare Arabian Song. He has two wins and three seconds from seven tries at 1 1/4 miles and is 16: 5-6-1 overall.

New Mexico-based trainer Todd Fincher will have his first Gold Cup starter as he saddles Senor Buscador, a Grade 3 winner going one mile at Churchill Downs four starts back on Oct. 1. Most recently a close fourth to Mike Stidham’s multiple graded stakes winning Proxy in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2) at a mile and one eighth April 22, Senor Buscador, a 5-year-old full horse by Mineshaft, will be trying 1 1/4 miles for the first time.

Out of the Desert God mare Rose’s Desert, Senor Buscador was bred in Kentucky by Joe Peacock Sr. and his son, Joe Jr., who is also the owner. He has a 10: 5-0-1 lifetime record with earnings of $479,427.

2023 Hollywood Gold Cup G1

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