The anticipated victory by the 2-5 favorite in the 73rd renewal of Betfair Hollywood Park’s signature race was historic. Sutherland, who became the first female to ride in the race in 2011, became the first of her sex to win Saturday, prevailing by 1 ½ lengths over 5-2 second choice Richard’s Kid.
Becoming the first horse to win the Gold Cup a year after finishing second since Ancient Title followed his runner-up effort to Tree Of Knowledge in 1974 with a 1975 victory under Laffit Pincay, Jr., Game On Dude completed the 1 ¼ miles over Cushion Track in 2:04.19.
Owned by a Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride LLC, Lanni Family Trust, Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable LLC and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude, who carried top weight of 124 pounds, won for the eighth time in 18 starts. The $300,000 payday pushed his bankroll to $2,644,658.
Since the Gold Cup was a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In’’ event, Game On Dude earned a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race in which he was second to Drosselmeyer last Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. This year’s Classic will be run Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Additionally, all entry fees will be waived for Game On Dude and his owners will receive a $10,000 travel allowance.
Winning for the second time in six starts at 10 furlongs, Game On Dude paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. He was the shortest priced winner of the Gold Cup since Affirmed returned $2.60 in 1979.
Tracking surprising pacesetter Spud Spivens through a quicker than expected 47.71 opening half mile, Game On Dude started to inch away around the far turn, kicked three lengths clear with a quarter of a mile to run and held sway under some left handed encouragement from Sutherland.
Third behind Awesome Gem and Rail Trip in the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup, Richard’s Kid finished 6 ¼ lengths clear of 7-1 third choice Kettle Corn and paid $2.60 and $2.10. The show price on Kettle Corn, who was second when Game On Dude won the Californian by 7 ¼ lengths June 2, was $2.60.
Spud Spivens faltered to fourth, 4 ¼ lengths behind Kettle Corn, and was followed by Vanity upsetter Love Theway You are, who was trying to become the first female winner of the Gold Cup since Princessnesian in 1968, Anthony’s Cross and Thirtyfirststreet.
“They had to run one-two,’’ said Baffert. “They’re two really good horses. That longshot (Spud Spivens) made them go pretty brisk. Game On Dude was getting a little tired, but he needs the competition.
“It looked like Richard’s Kid was going to come up to him, but he dug in there at the end. I’m glad they both ran their races and I’m happy for Chantal because I sort of got goose bumps when (track announcer Vic Stauffer) said she was trying to become the first woman to win this. I hoped it wasn’t the kiss of death.’’
Baffert indicated how Game On Dude trains at Del Mar will determine whether or not the dark bay runs in the Grade I, $1 million-guaranteed TVG Pacific Classic – a race in which he was fourth in 2011 – Aug. 26 at Del Mar. The 1 ¼ mile race is the destination for Richard’s Kid, who already owns two Pacific Classic victories (2009 and 2010).
“I could actually hear Rafael (Bejarano, who rode Richard’s Kid), yell, ‘I’m coming Chantal,’ at the quarter pole,’’ said Sutherland. “We’re friends and it was just like ‘I’m coming to get you,’ like a game of tag.
“(Game On Dude) wanted to go after (Spud Spivens) early and kept fighting and fighting, but then he kind of chilled out a little bit. When he started getting a little pushy about it, I had let him to do his thing. Down the lane, I didn’t want to hit him or push on him, but I was getting a little nervous.
“It’s exciting (to be the first female to win the Gold Cup). I feel really honored. It’s pretty cool. I hope I’m one of many more to come.’’
Hours after Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness I’ll Have Another made his final public appearance in Southern California before leaving for his new career as a stallion in Japan, the 3-year-old colt’s owner – J. Paul Reddam – and jockey – Mario Gutierrez – won the $150,000 Royal Heroine Mile by a head with 3-1 second choice Quiet Oasis.
The grassy Grade II was the second graded victory of the Spring/Summer meet for Quiet Oasis, who is trained by Ben Cecil. The 4-year-old Oasis Dream filly out of the Sunday Silence mare Silent Heir had taken the Grade III Wilshire at the same distance April 29 before finishing second in the Grade I Gamely at nine furlongs May 28.
Bred in Ireland by Breeding Capital PLC and Swettenham Stud, Quiet Oasis won for the fourth time in 10 lifetime starts. Three of her victories have come in seven races in the United States.
Ridden patiently by Gutierrez while Briecat set the pace with Mega Dream in close attendance, Quiet Oasis split horses when beginning her rally early in the stretch, angled outside and was up to win narrowly over 8-1 outsider Mega Dream and a stubborn Briecat. The final time was 1:35.06.
Increasing her bankroll to $262,379, Quiet Oasis paid $8, $3.80 and $3.20.
Mega Dream, who had won the Great Lady M. Stakes at six furlongs May 27 in her California debut, returned $7.20 and $5.20. The show price on 13-1 shot Briecat, who finished a neck back of the runner-up, was $7.20.
Nereid was fourth, followed by Ninth Infantry, Up In Time, City to City and All Star Heart, who failed to fire as the 8-5 choice. It was the first defeat in three starts over the Betfair Hollywood Park turf for the Canadian bred daughter of Arch.
“The problem with her early on is that she was very headstrong and rank,’’ said Cecil. “The nice thing is she’s gotten more and more relaxed. She hasn’t done much wrong since she’s been here. My exercise rider has done a really good job of getting her to settle.’’
Earlier in the afternoon, Pincay, a member of Racing’s Hall of Fame since 1975, presented the Award named in his honor to John Harris, a prominent California owner-breeder and former California Horse Racing Board chairman. Harris is the ninth winner of the Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award.
Pincay was among several former riders who attended the 73rd Gold Cup as part of the 10th annual Oldtimers Day at the Races. Joining Pincay, among others, were Eddie Delahoussaye, Gary Stevens, Julie Krone, Don Pierce, Ray York and Rudy Rosales.
Racing resumes Sunday. Post time is 1 p.m. Track gates at Betfair Hollywood Park will open at 9:55 a.m. for simulcasts.
The main event on the nine race card is the $68,000 Le Cle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf. The Le Cle goes as the third.