Heading into Saturday's Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), much of the interest will be around a pair of horses that have knocked heads in the past -- Guided Tour and Chicago Six. But a handful of challengers could prove strong.
Guided Tour opened his 5-year-old season with a strong victory in the San Antonio Handicap (gr. II). After a fifth place effort in the Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I), he battled Chicago Six in the National Jockey Club Handicap (gr. III) at Sportsman's, missing by just three-quarters of a length. Guided Tour's regular rider, Larry Melancon has the mount once again.
Running for a claiming tag early in his career, Chicago Six has become one of the top older handicap horses in Chicago and a win in the Gold Cup would vault him into national prominence. The Jere R. Smith, Sr. trainee rolls into the Gold Cup off of five consecutive wins, most recently defeating Guided Tour in the National Jockey Club Handicap at Sportsman's on April 22. Alfredo Juarez, Jr. has been aboard Chicago Six during this streak and he will be up once again this weekend.
The Elliot Walden-trained Ecton Park enters the Gold Cup after finishing fourth in the Ben Ali Handicap (gr. III) at Keeneland. Alex Solis gets the mount aboard Ecton Park.
An unknown in this race may be the Robert Frankel trained Lido Palace. Bred in Chile, Lido Palace ran with much success, winning six times from 10 starts.
The probable pacesetter in the Gold Cup is Patrick Byrne trained Duckhorn. As a three-year-old, Duckhorn was impressive in winning four times, but in 2001, he has won only once, that in a $60,000 stake at Laurel.
Gold Cup Post Positions and odds: Duckhorn(R. Meier) 8-1; Ecton Park (A. Solis) 7-2; Lido Palace (D. Flores) 5-1; Jadada (T. Doocy) 8-1; Chicago Six (A. Juarez Jr.) 3-1; Guided Tour (L. Melancon) 5-2; Winning Connection (E. Martin Jr.) 8-1.