Foster Winner Seek Gold Leaning to Gold Cup

(from Churchill Downs and Hollywood Park notes)
Seek Gold, upset winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 17, turned in a sparkling five furlong work on Sunday at Churchill Downs in preparation for an expected start in the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) July 8.

Seek Gold, the 6-year-old Touch Gold gelding, breezed the distance in :59 over a "fast" track. Jockey Calvin Borel, who was in the irons on Seek Gold for his 91-1 shocker in the Foster, was aboard for the move that was the second fastest of 24 at the distance.

Lava Man was assigned high weight of 124 pounds for the Gold Cup by the Hollywood Park racing office Sunday. Lava Man, who won the Gold Cup last year under 118, seeks to become the first repeat winner since Native Diver won three straight times from 1965-67.

Trainer Ron Moquett said Seek Gold's move was likely good enough to earn the Bowman Couch Racing runner a shot at the 1 ΒΌ-mile Gold Cup. Seek Gold was assigned 117 pounds.

"I told myself that he breezed good, but I'd let Calvin help me decide," said Moquett. "Calvin said 'California, here I come.'"

The decision on the West Coast journey is not yet final, but Moquett is heavily leaning in that direction.

"We're going to look at it," he said. "If he comes back good and everything's fine, that's where we'll go."

Lava Man, the speedy California-bred star, has grade I wins in 2006 on dirt in the Santa Anita Handicap and on turf in the Charles Whittingham Memorial.

A field of six is shaping up for the race: Lava Man, Corey Nakatani, 124 pounds; Magnum, Patrick Valenzuela, 118; Seek Gold, Calvin Borel, 117; Lucky J.H., Victor Espinoza, 116; Super Frolic, Jon Court, 116; and That's an Outrage, Tyler Baze, 114.

Also nominated are Spellbinder (115), Ace Blue (113), and Capitano (112).

Moquett said he has some concerns about shipping Seek Gold from east to west, but the Hollywood Gold Cup offers some very attractive possibilities for his stretch-running stable star.

"It'll be a five-horse field with a lot of speed," said Moquett, "and the purse is $750,000. Knock on wood, everything is just as good as it can be right now."

Seek Gold's victory in the Stephen Foster Handicap, which came in his first start for Moquett, improved his career record to 5-7-2 in 28 races with earnings of $887,635.