Yes, Rail Trip looks like he’ll be tough to beat in Saturday’s $500,000 Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park, but it’s really a quality field, especially when you consider that horses like Cigar (1995) and Skip Away (1998) don’t ship in anymore because of the synthetic tracks.
Rail Trip will carry top weight of 123 pounds, but that should not stop him from joining Native Diver (1965-67) and Lava Man (2005-07) as the only multiple winners of the historic race that has seen many great champions find the winner’s circle.
On paper, the biggest threat would appear to be the Bob Baffert-trained Richard’s Kid, who came from the clouds to win last summer’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar and who figures to get a realistic pace to run at Saturday, what with speedsters like Tres Borrachos and Compari in the field of seven.
And don’t count out Awesome Gem, a 7-year-old gelding who keeps knocking on the door but just can’t seem to kick it in for that elusive first Grade 1 victory. Trainer Craig Dollase told me a short respite earlier in the year seems to have re-energized the son of Awesome Again, who has more than $1.9 million in career earnings.
Awesome Gem will be ridden again by David Flores and he comes in off a second-place showing in the Lone Star Park Handicap in Texas on Memorial Day. He won the Grade 3 Hawthorne Gold Cup last fall and finished second in the Grade 1 Eddie Read Stakes on turf at Del Mar last summer.