Game On Dude seeks the third Grade 1 victory of his career in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup July 7 at Betfair Hollywood Park, a race he lost by a nose last year.
Contested 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 is guaranteed a spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 3 at Santa Anita Park. Additionally, pre-entry and entry fees will be waived and the owner given a $10,000 travel allowance.
I'll Have Another, the recently-retired winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, will be paraded after the third race on Gold Cup Day at Hollywood, providing fans a final opportunity to see the 3-year-old son of Flower Alley before he begins his new career as a stallion in Japan.
The Gold Cup isn't the only stakes event Saturday; the 10-race card also includes the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile for fillies and mares on turf. The Royal Heroine goes as the eighth race while the Gold Cup is the ninth at approximately 5:10 p.m. PDT.
Owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre's Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody's Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. The 124-pound high weight in the Gold Cup, Game On Dude comes off an authoritative win in the Californian June 2.
The 7 ¼-length victory was the seventh in 17 starts for the 5-year-old Awesome Again gelding out of the Devil His Due mare Worldly Pleasure; the winner's share of the purse increased his earnings to $2,344,658. Game On Dude won both the Santa Anita Handicap and Goodwood Stakes across town last year and was a close runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Classic, a loss which probably cost him Horse of the Year honors.
Game On Dude will be trying to make amends for a nose loss to stablemate First Dude in the 2011 Gold Cup. The last horse to win the Gold Cup a year after finishing second was Ancient Title, a talented California-bred who won in 1975 after chasing Tree of Knowledge in 1974.
Chantal Sutherland will take her usual place atop Game On Dude. She became the first female jockey to ride in the Gold Cup in 2011.
Baffert, who won the Gold Cup twice before First Dude with Real Quiet (1999) and Congaree (2003), will also be represented by Richard's Kid, the second high weight at 120 pounds.
The 7-year-old Lemon Drop Kid horse was successful in his return to the United States in the Prove It Stakes June 8. His 10th career win in his first start for Baffert since Oct. 2, 2010 came after he had lost five times in a span of nearly 13 months in the United Arab Emirates.
Owned by Zabeel Racing International, Richard's Kid, a double winner of the Pacific Classic at Del Mar, has earned $1,826,385 in 33 starts. The Maryland-bred is making his second Gold Cup appearance. He was third behind Awesome Gem and Rail Trip in 2010.
Love Theway Youare, who upset heavily-favored Include Me Out in the Vanity Handicap June 16, will take on males in her first attempt at 10 furlongs. Trained by owner Myung Kwon Cho, the 4-year-old Arch filly snapped an 11-race losing streak in the Vanity.
The last female to compete in the Gold Cup was Life Is Sweet, who finished third in 2009. The last filly or mare to win the race was Princessnesian in 1968. The other female winners were Happy Issue (1944) and Two Lea (1952).
Runner-up in the Californian, Kettle Corn will be making his grade I debut for owners Lee and Susan Searing's C R K Stable and trainer John Sadler, who saddled favorite and eventual third-place finisher Twirling Candy in this race a year ago. A 5-year-old Candy Ride horse, Kettle Corn's last win came in the Native Diver Handicap over Cushion Track last Dec. 3.
Anthony's Cross will be seeking his first win since a nose victory over Riveting Reason in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes Feb. 12, 2011. Owned by A D K Racing and trained by Eoin Harty, the 4-year-old Indian Charlie colt will add blinkers for the Gold Cup.
Spud Spivens, a California-bred who has earned all four of his wins over Cushion Track, will be making his initial start in a Grade 1. The 4-year-old Tizbud gelding has earned $239,044 in 23 races.
Trainer Doug O'Neill, who won the Gold Cup three times in a row (2005-2007) with Lava Man, will be represented by Thirtyfirststreet, fourth last time in the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap May 5.