Continental Red could join Native Diver as oldest Hollywood Gold Cup winner.

Continental Red could join Native Diver as oldest Hollywood Gold Cup winner.

Jeff Coady

Even the Score Squares Off in Gold Cup

(from Hollywood Park report)
Even the Score, a 6-year-old roan gelding who has soared to national prominence during Hollywood Park's spring/summer meet, is the 6-5 favorite in Saturday's 65th running of the $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I).

Even the Score can become the only horse other than Eleven Stitches in 1981 to sweep Hollywood Park's three major dirt races for older horses when facing six opponents in the 1 1/4-mile classic, the track's signature event.

Purchased privately last fall by Texan Rosendo Parra after campaigning primarily in the Midwest, Even the Score has burgeoned under the care of trainer Vladimir Cerin, who took the 2000 Gold Cup with 24-1 shot Early Pioneer.

Saturday, he starts in the outside post in a field of seven with David Flores in the irons. All starters carry 124 pounds under weight-for-age conditions.

Even the Score won the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap (gr. II) by two lengths on May 8. He was geared down while winning the Californian (gr. II) even more impressively by 3 1/2 on June 12.

"He's in a zone right now," Flores said of the Kentucky-bred son of Unbridled's Song who had not previously won a graded stakes anywhere.

Eleven Stitches was in a similar zone in 1981 when upsetting Glorious Song in the Mervyn LeRoy, then Temperance Hill in the Californian. Eleven Stitches concluded his career by thumping legendary John Henry, who finished fourth in that year's Hollywood Gold Cup.

Even the Score would become a millionaire should he be able to complete the series sweep. The winner's pot of $450,000 would elevate his earnings to $1,111,629. Even the Score enters the Gold Cup with a bankroll of $661,629 from a 9-1-8 record in 28 career starts. Before joining trainer Cerin, he had been raced mostly on grass with but three wins in 16 starts.

Foot problems seemed to impede Even the Score's progress. "He continues to have those problems," said Cerin, "but we've been able to manage them better. We're able to train him harder, and he's getting faster and stronger. Hopefully, we haven't seen his best yet."

Yessirgeneralsir, the aptly-named 4-year-old Texas-bred son of Patton, has shipped in from Texas where he won the Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) by 2 1/4 lengths in front-running fashion on May 31. Trained by Dallas Keen for James D. Jackson, the lightly-raced bay gelding has posted a 3-1-2 record in eight starts for earnings of $252,555.

Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella will be in search of his third Gold Cup victory with Olmodavor, a 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy. Olmodavor's wins include December's Native Diver Handicap (gr. III) at Hollywood Park and this year's Whirlaway Handicap (gr. III) at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. With a 5-3-1 mark in 13 races, the Wertheimer brothers' Olmodavor has earned $486,540.

Popular California-bred Continental Red is the field's most accomplished entrant with earnings of $1,172,558 for owner-breeder Sharon Fitzpatrick. The chestnut gelding has raced 62 times (7-14-12 record) during a career than began in 1998. At 8, Continental Red could join Gold Cup hero Native Diver as the race's oldest winner. Native Diver won his third successive Gold Cup in 1967.

$750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I, 5:40 p.m. Pacific, Race 9), 3 & up, 1 1/4 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. Olmodavor, Alex Solis
2. Total Impact, Mike Smith
3. Continental Red, Victor Espinoza
4. Yessirgeneralsir, Omar Figueroa
5. Gift of the Eagle, Javier Santiago
6. Royal Moro, Corey Nakatani
7. Even the Score, David Flores
All carry 124 pounds.