Washington Rivals Battle in Hawthorne Gold Cup

(from Hawthorne report)
The first two finishers of last month's Longacres Mile (gr. III) head a wide open field of seven older handicap horses entered in the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) to be contested over ten furlongs at Hawthorne Race on Saturday.

Grasshopper Stable's Flamethrowintexan, the expected speed in the race, drew the extreme outside post for trainer Jim Penney and jockey Ricky Frazier. The 5-year-old gelded son of Way West held off Greg Norman's Papi Chullo by a desperate neck August 19 in the Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs. It is Papi Chullo, however, who was made the slight 3-1 morning line favorite to turn the tables in the Gold Cup.

Papi Chullo returned to finish a creditable fourth in the Woodward (gr. I) at Saratoga for trainer Buenaventura Vargas. He exits from post 3 with Robby Albarado astride.

Flamethrowintexan, a winner of six of his last 10 starts, figures to control the pace and has the added advantage of a breeze over the Hawthorne track. He has won twice at nine furlongs but is yet to start at 1 1/4 miles.

Trainer Todd Pletcher is often a major player in graded stakes events held at Hawthorne. In recent years Pletcher has bagged two runnings of the grade II Illinois Derby (2001 with Distilled and 2004 with Pollard's Vision), a grade III National Jockey Club Handicap (2005 with Pollard's Vision) and back-to-back runnings of the grade III Sixty Sails (2005 with Isola Piu Bella and 2006 with Fleet Indian).

Pletcher has never run a horse in the Gold Cup, but that will change on Saturday when he sends the 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt A.P. Arrow to the post for the Allen E. Paulson Living Trust.

As a 3-year-old, A.P. Arrow was brimming with potential, but he only managed to get a maiden victory and a first-level allowance score out of a nine-race campaign. He took failed cracks at the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I, ninth) and the Belmont Stakes (gr. I, fifth) early in the year. He did run a huge race to finish second in the Grade II Super Derby at Louisiana Downs in the fall.

Following off-season knee surgery, A.P. Arrow was turned over to Pletcher in June. He won his only start this season, a second-level allowance race over nine furlongs at Saratoga. John Velazquez is named to pilot, and the team will leave from post 4.

Jockey Mark Guidry has twice sipped from the storied Gold Cup, winning with Yourmissingthepoint in 1995 and Buck's Boy in 1997. On Saturday he will hop aboard Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Nolan's Cat, who may be best known for his third place finish behind Afleet Alex in the Belmont Stakes in 2005. He was last seen finishing fourth behind Suave in the Washington Park Handicap (gr. II) at Arlington Park.

Niall O'Callaghan, the trainer of Greg Besinger's Summer Book, is the only conditioner with a horse in Saturday's race to have previously won the Gold Cup, capturing the 2002 edition with Hail the Chief. Earlier this spring, Summer Book finished a solid third over Hawthorne's main track in the National Jockey Club Handicap. Jose Ferrer is slated to ride.

Rounding out the Gold Cup field are (with trainer): Stan Fulton's It's No Joke, runner-up in the Turfway Fall Challenge (gr. III) last out; and Wexler Racing Stable's Kid Grindstone, winner of the Fifth Season (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park earlier this spring. It's No Joke is entered to run in the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) at Turfway Park on Saturday as well.

$500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (gr. II, Race 8, 4:26 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Summer Book (FL), Jose C. Ferrer, 111, 8/1
2. It's No Joke (KY), Eusebio Razo, Jr., 113, 9/2
3. Papi Chullo (FL), Robby Albarado, 114, 3/1
4. A.P. Arrow (KY), John R. Velazquez, 112, 7/2
5. Kid Grindstone (KY), Jesse M. Campbell, 113, 8/1
6. Nolan's Cat (KY), Mark Guidry, 112, 6/1
7. Flamethrowintexan (FL), Ricky Frazier, 115, 4/1