GOLD CUP FAVORITE TINNERS WAY HAS WORK CUT OUT IN TOUGH
Two-time Pacific Classic champion Tinners Way heads an outstanding cast of eight world-class runners entered Thursday morning for Sunday's $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup.
The Gold Cup, second leg of the MGM Grand Classic Crown which awards a horse a $2-million bonus for winning the Santa Anita Handicap, Gold Cup and Pacific Classic, is the first race in the handicap division with six Grade I winners since the 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic. The race runs as the fifth on Sunday's card. Post time for the Gold Cup is 2:10 p.m. The race will be televised nationally (1:30 to 2:30 p.m.) by ESPN. Dave Johnson and Bob Neumeier will serve as hosts with the call from Hollywood Park announcer Luke Kruytbosch.
Juddmonte Farms' Tinners Way, a 6-year-old son of Secretariat from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, enters the 1 1/4-mile classic with seven wins in 25 starts and earnings of $1,846,992. Winner of the June 2 Californian in his lone 1996 start, Tinners Way is the 121-pound high weight for the Gold Cup.
Tinners Way will be ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, who chose him over Santa Anita Handicap champion Mr Purple -- the only horse with a chance to win the MGM Grand's primary bonus of $2 million. Mr Purple, who will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, drew the two-post.
In other developments:
Luthier Fever joined the Gold Cup field after drilling five furlongs in :47 2/5 at Santa Anita Thursday morning.
The Gold Cup field, from the rail out, lines up as follows:
Siphon, David Flores up, 117 pounds, 5-1 on the morning line; Mr Purple*, Nakatani, 118, 9/2; Dare And Go, Alex Solis, 118, 12-1; Geri, Jerry Bailey, 118, 7/2; Luthier Fever, Kent Desormeaux, 113, 20-1; a-Nonproductiveasset, Rene Douglas, 114, 3-1; Tinners Way, Delahoussaye, 121, 2-1, and a-Helmsman, Chris McCarron, 120, 3-1. Nonproductiveasset and Helmsman are coupled in wagering.
* Eligible for the $2-million MGM Grand Classic Crown bonus.
Luthier Fever, the lone California-bred in the race, finished second in the Santa Anita Handicap and is one of three horses still eligible to share in the MGM Grand's $500,000 Participation Bonus. Mr Purple and Helmsman also ran in the Big 'Cap and will be eligible to share in the Participation Bonus if they also run in the Aug. 10 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
Excerpts from the post position draw breakfast:
Chris McCarron, jockey of Helmsman, on his 14-0-9-1 record in the Gold Cup: "It's a race with great stature, a big purse and a wonderful field. There's always a lot of pressure with a race like this, but I don't think the fact that I've had NINE SECONDS adds any more pressure, but it is a race that I really want to win. I think I've got a really good shot at it this year."
McCarron on Helmsman: "The only change in style that occurred (in The Californian) is that I respected Del Mar Dennis a great deal, who was in front of me loping along real easily, and I didn't want him to just gallop around the last turn because I didn't think anyone would catch him if I allowed that. I went after him a little earlier that I probably would have if somebody else was up there to soften him up. But there's good speed in the Gold Cup this time -- not just Siphon but Luthier Fever, who's a pretty fast horse himself. I think we'll have plenty of targets, and if I find it in my soul to be a little bit more patient this time like I did with this horse in the San Fernando and the Strub, that's the way we'll go about it."
Jockey Alex Solis on Siphon: "I've been very fortunate to have great meet, thank God. I'm very confident with Dare And Go, he's a very nice horse. He's a better horse this year -- more settled than last year. I think we have a great chance."
Trainer Ron McAnally (Mr Purple) on the presence of Geri: "He's the horse I'm afraid of. The way he ran at Oaklawn . . . he's some kind of a horse. To get in with 118 pounds after winning a race like the Oaklawn Handicap, I think he got a big break in the weights even though his last race wasn't that good on an off track. This is a good horse and I'm afraid he's the one to beat."
Trainer Richard Mandella (Dare And Go & Siphon) on the horse to beat: "Tinners Way. As good as he came back in (The Californian) . . . he's always been a good horse. He's got enough speed and he's right there all the time, so he's the horse I fear the most along with (Geri)."
Trainer Wally Dollase (Helmsman & Nonproductiveasset) on the horse to beat: "I think Mr Purple got a break in the weights and he's obviously going to run a heckuva race, I believe. There's a lot more speed going a mile-and-a-quarter in here than most mile-and-a-quarter races. That's going to set things up for a horse like Mr Purple . . .he's going to be mighty tough."
Trainer Richard Mandella on Siphon: "He's a good horse, anyway, and we were happy with the way he had been sprinting, but we went on and started him in some longer races and he's done very well at that. His training the last month is just outstanding -- he's done more than we've asked every time. When you look at him on Sunday, he's just a big, strong, good-looking horse. We're excited to be in here and have a chance at it."
Trainer Wally Dollase on Helmsman: "I definitely like having (Helmsman) on the outside because he has a tendency -- when he gets on the inside of horses -- to go a little too hard. On the outside and knowing the jockey, he'll be able to relax. That's the secret going a mile-and-a-quarter, being able to relax at some point in the race. So, I feel real good about that."
Trainer Wally Dollase on Nonproductiveasset: "Nonproductiveasset is somewhat like Mr Purple -- he'll be back there and relax throughout the first part of the race. If the pace is too fast, he's going to close like a house of fire. I know he's run some big races in the past. He's had some bleeding problems, but I think we've got them all solved now. All I wanted with him was an outside post, and we got lucky with the six-hole. I think he should run a very good race. He'll certainly get the mile-and-a-quarter because he rates so kindly and (Rene Douglas) knows him well. Also that 114 pounds doesn't hurt him -- he'll surprise a few people."
Trainer Ron McAnally on Mr Purple: "I think (Mr Purple) is just as good now (as when winning the Santa Anita Handicap). He had a little rest between the Oaklawn Handicap and the last race (The Californian). He looks just as good now. He's a nice fresh horse -- he had one nice race in the last three months. I think he'll make a good showing."
"My opinion has always been: the longer distance you go with weight, the tougher it gets. There's a nine-pound shift in weight this time, and (Tinners Way) only beat us a half-length (last out). In my opinion, (Tinners Way) didn't get too much of a break in weight because of what he's done in the last couple of years. He probably deserved top weight, but there's a drastic change in weights from this race and The Californian."
Trainer Richard Mandella on Dare And Go: "(Dare And Go) is a horse with a lot of speed, but I've got another one in there that's a real speed horse -- that's Siphon. Dare And Go has won from on the pace and off, so obviously we'll try to settle him and not use him too much early."
SPECIAL 12:00 NOON POST TIME ON GOLD CUP DAY
Hollywood Gold Cup Day carries a special first post time of 12 noon. Gates will open at 9:30 a.m. No early bird wagering will be available. The $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup, set for the fifth live race, has a post time of 2:10 p.m.
GOLD CUP WINNING GROOM TO RECEIVE TRUCK FROM HOLLYWOOD
As the Hollywood Gold Cup runners go to post June 30, their respective grooms will have plenty riding on the outcome. The winning groom will drive away in style, as for the fifth year in a row, Hollywood Park will reward the groom of the Hollywood Gold Cup winner with the keys to a brand new Ford Ranger pickup truck.
LET BOB DO IT RETURNS TO MAIN TRACK IN SUNDAY'S
Karkenny & Levy's Let Bob Do It will bid to become the first three time stakes winner of the meeting in Sunday's $100,000 Affirmed Stakes.
Since being transferred to John Sadler's barn, the 3-year-old gelding finished second in the California Derby (Gr. III) at Golden Gate and captured the Will Rogers Handicap (Gr. III) and the Cinema Handicap (Gr. III) on the turf earlier at the meeting.
The son of Percival has rolled off three wins and a second in stakes company since being switched to the turf, so one might ask why the stakes runner is going back to the main track.
"We have some hesitation to running him back on the dirt," said Sadler, who captured the 1986 running of the Affirmed, beating males with the undefeated filly Melair. "But this is coming up like a pretty good spot."
Let Bob Do It, the starting highweight in the field at 120, has shown speed in his last three races on the turf, but will be somewhat of an unknown in the Affirmed.
"He's trained well on the dirt," Sadler said of his 3-year-old, who worked four furlongs in :48 3/5 Wednesday morning. "We're right here at Hollywood and this is a good spot to experiment with him."
Post Positions for the $100,000 Affirmed Stakes, to be run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, listed from the rail out: Benton Creek, Kent Desormeaux, 114, 15-1; Let Bob Do It, Kent Desormeaux, 120, 4-1; Matty G, Alex Solis, 119, 3-1; Hesabull, Eddie Delahoussaye, 117, 4-1; Defleet, Rene Douglas, 113, 20-1; Semoran, Corey Nakatani, 118, 5-2; Slews Royal Son, Brice Blanc, 116, 5-1, and Pugnacious, Chris McCarron, 116, 15-1.
COMININALITTLEHOT WARMS UP FOR SUNDAY'S TRIPLE BEND
Trainer Mike Mitchell realizes defeating Afternoon Deelites in Sunday's Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap is a tall order, and as of Thursday morning he didn't have any concrete ideas of how to do just that.
"I hope the gate doesn't open for him," said Mitchell, who will saddle Comininalittlehot in the seven furlong sprint. "To me, Afternoon Deelites is the real speed of the race. He has the only real natural speed."
The 5-year-old gelding showed speed in his last effort, but Mitchell will be looking for one late run from his charge on Sunday.
"In his last he broke inside and had to go with the only speed and came up empty," said Mitchell, who noted Comininalittlehot is not Breeders' Cup eligible and will be running for only half of the $200,000 purse on Sunday. "You have to sit off the pace going seven-eighths. He couldn't relax last time and give that explosion in the lane."
One advantage Mitchell and owners Gary and Timothy Burke will have is the services of Jerry Bailey for the contest.
"Everyone knows he's been riding sensational, and my owner is really excited about it," Mitchell said.
In other developments:
Powis Castle worked three furlongs in :37 4/5 as he prepared for Sunday's contest.
Score Quick drilled four furlongs in :46 2/5 Thursday morning for trainer Mel Stute.
Post Positions and morning lines for Sunday's $200,000 Triple Bend Breeders' Cup Handicap, to be run at seven furlongs on the main track, from the rail out: The Exeter Man, Eddie Delahoussaye, 115, 4-1; Score Quick, Goncalino Alameida, 113, 20-1; Marina Park, Rene Douglas, 20-1, 111; Afternoon Deelites, Corey Nakatani, 124, 6-5; Powis Castle, Laffit Pincay, Jr., 116; 5-1; Comininalittlehot, Jerry Bailey, 116, 8-1; Letthebighossroll, Chris McCarron, 116, 5-1, and Kingdom Found, Alex Solis, 116, 10-1.
MR PURPLE SHOOTS FOR $2-MILLION MGM GRAND CLASSIC
Mr Purple's upset victory for Alex G. Campbell in the Santa Anita Handicap leaves him one-third of the way to the $2-million MGM Classic Crown Bonus. The bonus, which awards a horse sweeping the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap, the $1-million Hollywood Gold Cup and the $1-million Pacific Classic, with a total prize of $3.8-million, was originally proposed by the Thoroughbred Owners of California as an incentive for the series.
In addition to the $2-million bonus, MGM Grand Hotel/Casino of Las Vegas will pay a $500,000 Participation Bonus, which will be distributed among the top point earners. To be eligible for the bonus, a horse must start in all three races.
Participation Bonus point distribution after the first leg of the MGM Grand Classic Crown: Mr Purple, 10 (Santa Anita Handicap winner and eligible for the $2-million bonus); Luthier Fever, 7; Just Java, 5; Helmsman, 3, and Cezind, 1.
BATROYALE TO RETURN IN SATURDAY'S $100,000 VALKYR
Sorrento Stakes and Del Mar Debutante winner Batroyale is set to make her 3-year-old debut in Saturday's $100,000 Valkyr Handicap for trainer Bob Baffert. The daughter of Batonnier will make her turf debut in the 5 1/2-furlong race for California-breds.
"She doesn't have any conditions left, and I didn't want her to go 6 1/2 off the layoff," Baffert said. "Most Batonniers love the turf."
Batroyale, one of the top 2-year-old fillies on the circuit last summer, took right to the track. She ran away with her first four races including the Solano County Juvenile, and the aforementioned Sorrento Stakes and Del Mar Debutant. She finished a disappointing fourth as the 1-2 favorite in the Grade I Oak Leaf, and finished out the year with a third in the Cal Cup Juvenile Fillies.
The Baffert-trainee shoots right to the front in all her races, and with David Flores up on Saturday, she figures to be winging it on the lead in the Valkyr.
"Speed's her game," he said. "They're going to have to come and get her."
In other developments:
Miss L Attack breezed three furlongs in :36 3/5 in preparation for the Valkyr for trainer Henry Moreno.
Post positions for Saturday's $100,000-added Valkyr Handicap, to be run at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, from the rail out: Seattle Carla, Alex Solis, 112; Truce In Balance, Eddie Delahoussaye, 117; Salsa Dancer, Chris McCarron, 115; Miss L Attack, Rene Douglas, 118; Tabled With Saros, Kent Desormeaux, 116; Batroyale, David Flores, 114; Airistar, Corey Nakatani, 118; Fickle Flirt, Joy Scott, 107; Above The Table, Brice Blanc, 117; Flying In The Lane, Martin Pedroza, 120.
FINISH LINES: Trainer Wally Dollase saddled his 200th career winner Wednesday. Dollase obtained his trainers license in 1967, but owned and operated Rio Vista , a commercial breeding farm from 1969 to 1984, when he resumed his training career . . . 1995 champion 2-year-old filly Golden Attraction posted her first workout Wednesday at Churchill Downs . . . Serena's Song will break from post position five in Saturday's Hempstead Handicap at Belmont . . . In his first race following the Sept. 17 Molson Million, Petionville captured a six-furlong allowance race at Churchill Downs on Wednesday . . . Gamely Handicap (Gr. I) winner worked seven furlongs in 1:25 2/5 Thursday in preparation for the July 7 Beverly Hills Handicap (Gr. I) for trainer Marty Jones . . . Hollywood Derby winner Labeeb went seven furlongs in 1:30 1/5 for trainer Neil Drysdale as he prepares for the July 4 American Handicap . . . Golden Gate Handicap winner Time Star went five furlongs over the turf course in 1:05 2/5 . . . Other prominent workouts: Track Gal, five furlongs in :59 4/5; Dernier Empereur, 1:01 over the turf; Lit De Justice, five furlongs in 1:00 on the grass; Sleep Easy, three furlongs in :34 2/5; Forest Gazelle, five furlongs in 1:01 3/5; Canadian 2-year-old champion filly Silken Cat, one mile over the turf in 1:33 2/5.
Go To Main Menu
The Running Horse (http://www.isd1.com/alauck)