Defending champion Mast Track? Californian winner Informed, along with runners-up Rail Trip, Dakota Phone and Song of Navarone? This isn’t exactly a Hollywood Gold Cup for the ages.
Twenty horses were nominated Thursday for the $700,000 Gold Cup, which will be run July 11 at 1 1/4 miles on Cushion Track. The most intriguing nominee is Life Is Sweet, who will attempt to become the fourth female to win the Gold Cup — Hollypark’s signature race — and the first since Princessnesian in 1968. Two Lea (1952) and Happy Issue (1944) also turned the trick.
With Tiago not ready to run yet and Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed aiming for a return to the races in the San Diego Handicap at Del Mar on Aug. 2, the Gold Cup is seriously lacking some star power. Mast Track, trained by Bobby Frankel, won the race last year in gate-to-wire fashion, but he’s winless in five races since.
A pair of Eastern invaders who have shown a fondness for synthetic tracks — Parading from New York and Bullsbay from Maryland — figure to be major players in the race. Others nominated include 2008 Swaps Stakes winner Tres Borrachos, Autism Awareness, Awesome Gem, Big Booster, Champs Elysees, Global Hunter, Magnum, Mr. Big, Plan, Richard’s Kid, Rising Moon and Wishful Tomcat.
Champs Elysees, runner-up to the brilliant Einstein in the Santa Anita Handicap in March, is an interesting horse. But he’s better on the turf, and Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface appears to be more conducive to grass specialists than Hollywood’s Cushion Track, which plays more like a traditional dirt surface.