Californian (gr. II) winner Twirling Candy , Santa Anita Handicap upsetter Game On Dude (gr. I), talented filly Blind Luck (gr. I), and defending titleholder Awesome Gem are among 14 nominees for the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I).
Run at 1 1/4 miles over Cushion Track, the Gold Cup will be renewed for the 72nd time Saturday, July 9.
The Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In’’ race. The winner of Hollywood Park’s signature event earns a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs.
Owned by breeder Jenny Craig’s Family Trust and William S. Farish and trained by John Sadler, Twirling Candy overcame an eventful trip to win the Californian June 4. The victory was his third in four starts over the Hollywood Park main track.
Game On Dude, who survived a lengthy stewards’ inquiry before his surprise at nearly 14-1 in the Big `Cap was official, will be making his first start at Hollywood Park for a partnership that includes Diamond Pride, Lanni Family Trust, and Ernie Moody’s Mercedes Stable and trainer Bob Baffert. Baffert, who won the Gold Cup with Real Quiet in 1999 and Congaree in 2003, also nominated First Dude , who has won two in a row, including the Alysheba Stakes (gr. III) May 6 at Churchill Downs.
Fresh off a last-to-first victory in the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) June 18, Blind Luck would be the fourth female to win the Gold Cup if she starts and is successful. The last filly to win the Gold Cup was Princessnesian in 1968. The other female winners were Two Lea (1952) and Happy Issue (1944).
Proven at 10 furlongs--she won the 2010 Alabama at Saratoga--for a partnership that includes trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, John Abruzzo, John Carver and Mark DeDomenico, Blind Luck has two wins and a second in three races over Cushion Track.
Awesome Gem, who upset Rail Trip with a rail-skimming ride from jockey David Flores in 2010, may attempt to become the third multiple Gold Cup winner, joining Lava Man and Native Diver. The two California breds won the race three times.
Acclamation, a multiple graded stakes winner on the Hollywood Park turf, Aggie Engineer, Ashtar, Dark Cove, Jeranimo , Miss Match, a 6-year-old mare, Setsuko, Soul Candy, and Uh Oh Bango were also nominated for the Gold Cup.
Weights will be released Sunday, July 3.
The Gold Cup card will also include the $150,000 Swaps Stakes, a grade II for 3-year-olds at 1 1/8 miles over Cushion Track.
Baffert, who has won the Swaps four times tying him with D. Wayne Lukas for most in a race which was first run in 1974, has four of the eight nominees--Affirmed Handicap (gr. III) winner Coil, Jaycito, Sinai and Uncle Sam.