The Gold Cup (Grade 1)- $500.000 Purse
SA- For Three Year Olds and Upward
One Mile and One Quarter on the Dirt
May 26, 2018
This Saturday, there are several good races taking place at SA, but the biggest one is the 15th running of the Gold Cup, a race that has seen some of the greatest virtual horses that have ever raced end up in the winners circle. It’s $500.000 purse is smaller then the years that the likes of Icicle and Barbarino were winning the race, but still enough to attract Black Mojo, the reigning BC Classic winner. If you don’t want to hear me talk about Mb Stables, then you might want to skip that next couple sentences, because the Gold Cup is a race where he has truly put his footprint on. From 2013-2016, Mb Stables won the race each year, doing so with four different horses. Jesse James (2013), Visa Vice (2014), No Trippin (2015), and Chrystal Pip (2016). He gave someone else a chance to win in 2017, as A One, another legend, won the race for Eastern Equine. Winning a grade 1 four years in a row is a remarkable achievement, and while I do not know the official record, I don’t believe I have seen a better streak in such a race. We will have twelve going to the starting gate for this one, so let’s meet our entries!
#1- Bronx Bomber (Aer Stables, ridden by I Ortiz Jr)- It’s been a great year for the Bronx Bombers, so Aer Stables is hoping that he can say the same for his now four year old colt. He has not been raced much this year, competing just twice. His first run of the year came in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup, where a good, though frustrating fifth place result kept him without a check. He bounced back well last month in the CT Classic, running third in a race won by Black Mojo. I like that he is fresh, and his recent public works show that he is ready to knock one out of the park.
#2- Turn Ninnie (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by E Maldonado)- After the trainer acquired Turn Ninnie in private sales, he entered him in several high quality graded events, including the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes, but he never got much to show for it. No wins, and only once hitting the board. However, the perseverance is paying off as he has picked up wins in this last two starts. Down at TAM in March, he won the $100.000 ungraded Challenger Stakes, and that may have been the confidence booster he needed. He followed that up nicely by winning the Tokyo City Cup (Grade 3) right here at SA last month. Now, with new confidence, he faces the strong company again, let’s see if it leads to a better result.
#3- Hidden Slew Laff (Gdp Inc, ridden by J J Castellano)- It continues to be all or nothing for this gelding, with seven wins in fourteen starts, and never finishing second or third in his career. Lately, he has been winning, and that includes his last start, which was the Grade 3 Ali at KEE last month. Overall, he has three wins in his last five starts. When he has taken the best in the division, at the Grade 1 level, and he has made several such starts, those efforts have resulted in the times he has not won. Hidden Slew Laff would love to prove himself against the best in the business.
#4- Chrystal Pip (Mb Stables, ridden by R J Albarado)- With a win, Chrystal Pip would become the third horse to win the Gold Cup twice, and he would be the first one to not do it in consecutive years. He was the winner of the 2016 race, and after spending much of last year running on the grass, he has returned to the main track and has found success. Here in March, he won the SA Handicap, showing that he can still get it done. Was a bit flat in the CT Classic last month, however.
#5- Range Of The Sun (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by Mario Gutierrez)- A winner of six out of fifteen in his career thus far. The Cherokee Sunset gelding opened his four year old season with a win right here at SA, taking an open allowance, and showed he really likes this track once again with a solid third place run in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes, a race that followed a couple less successful races. He has another graded win earlier, coming at this track, so he will like the scenery for this one.
#6- Black Mojo (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- It seems likely that Mb Stables will hit the 500 graded win plateau for this race, and it would be fitting for it to come here, in a race that he has dominated. Black Mojo would be a worthy horse to do it, as the 2017 BC Classic winner has continued to race well this year. The Pegasus World Cup was not his race, but after a freshener in an open allowance win, he took home the CT Classic in his last start. Works continue to be strong, so there is no reason to expect anything but the best when he hits the track.
#7- Sporty Greyjoy (Saratoga Stud, ridden by R Bejarano)- Kicked off the year about as good as one can, by winning the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup at GP, in what has been his signature win to this point. It completed a stretch where he won four out of five races, two of which were graded stakes. While he was great in the Pegasus, that was not the case in the CT Classic, but perhaps he just didn’t take to that bullring all that well. That should be a throw out, and I could see him being a little overlooked on race day. He’s one of the top horses in the field.
#8- In Captivity (Mb Stables, ridden by F Pennington)- The third of the three entries by Mb Stables in this race, and he gets the services of the amazing Mr. Pennington. In Captivity can be easy to forget about just in comparison to the other two that the trainer brings to the gate, as he is winless this season in two starts. Had a stretch last year, as a three year old, where he also won four out of five, including the Grade 1 Cigar Handicap.
#9- How To Laff (Serenity Stables, ridden by J L Ortiz)- It seems as though there are several in here who ran in both the Pegasus World Cup and the CT Classic. How To Laff was a lot like Sporty Greyjoy in the Pegasus, as he finished second that day, but also like his rival, he just did not take to the CT Classic. We can attribute that, potentially, to the small track that CT is, and make that just as much of a throw out for How To Laff as we are with Sporty Greyjoy. Between those races, How To Laff ran third here in the SA Handicap. I am also impressed with his most recent work, coming at PRX. I’m expecting him to run well, but there are so many good ones in this field to choose from.
#10- Tekkers (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by K Carmouche)- More then likely, this Winter Warrior gelding will be going to the front right out of the gate, something that is more likely given his post position here. His last three victories have seen him go wire to wire, and that includes his last start, which was the Grade 2 Califonian Stakes. Maxmillion had a lot of faith in him, purchasing him for $390.000 this January for Fractious, and it looks like he is living up to that vote of confidence at this point in time.
#11- Steel Will (Defoe, ridden by M E Smith)- It will be the 26th start for this veteran five year old, and the trainer will be looking for his first win with him since acquiring him in private sales last fall for $250.000. He’s been worth the price though, getting a pair of third place finishes in well paying races: the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, and then having the same result in the Pegasus World Cup. Unlike some others in the Pegasus, he did not go to the CT bullring, but last month ran instead in the OP Handicap. That did not go well, and Steel Will needs to rebound now from a couple of tough results.
#12- Laffin Parrot (Mo Mentum Farm, ridden by A A Gallardo)- Starting on the outside, Laffin Parrot is likely interesting in coming from well off the pace. This was a strategy that has worked for him in his career, and that was never more apparent then his highly impressive closing bid right here in the SA Handicap. Entering the stretch in 11th, and still five lengths out, Laffin Parrot caught everyone except for Chrystal Pip that day. At the same distance, and from a similar starting post, there’s no reason to think Laffin Parrot can’t do one spot better here.