Uploaded on Jul 9, 2011
What had already been a memorable Spring/Summer meet for Bob Baffert got even better Saturday when the Hall of Fame trainer finished 1-2 in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup.
First Dude won for the third time in four starts since joining the Baffert barn, edging Game On Dude by a nose with 11-10 favorite Twirling Candy a neck back in third.
The victory was the third in Hollywood Park's signature race for Baffert, who had won previously with Real Quiet (1999) and Congaree (2003).
He became the first trainer since the late Bobby Frankel to achieve the Gold Cup exacta. Frankel accomplished the feat in 2001 with Aptitude and Skimming, a result made possible by the disqualification of Futural, who was moved from first to third.
The last time it happened naturally was 1997 and Richard Mandella, who saddled Setsuko for a fourth-place finish Saturday, went one better. Mandella had a 1-2-3 finish that year with Gentlemen defeating Siphon and Sandpit.
Owned by breeder Don Dizney, First Dude, a 4-year-old son of Stephen Got Even and the Smart Strike mare Run Sarah Run, was taken off the pace set by his stablemate by jockey Martin Garcia while in the clear, finishing well on the outside to prevail in the last jump.
By virtue of the thrilling victory, First Dude earned a spot in the Breeders' Cup Classic Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs as the Gold Cup was a BC "Win and You're In'' challenge race. Additionally, First Dude will have his pre-entry and entry fees waived for the Classic and receive a $10,000 travel allowance.
Successful for the fourth time in 17 starts, the Florida bred earned his first Grade I in his ninth such appearance. He had hit the board five times before, including thirds in the Blue Grass, Belmont, Haskell Invitational and Travers and a second in the Preakness. All those efforts were in 2010 for former trainer Dale Romans.
Pushing his earnings to $1,442,140, First Dude, whose only loss this year was a sixth in the Santa Anita Handicap won by Game On Dude, paid $10.20, $4.80 and $3.20 as the 4-1 second choice. He completed the 1 ¼ miles over Cushion Track in 2:01.57.
The Gold Cup win was a first for Garcia, who finished third in the race a year ago aboard the Baffert-trained Richard's Kid.
Game On Dude, who established the lead immediately after breaking directly outside Twirling Candy, the 122-pound highweight, just failed to make some additional history for his rider as the 9-2 third choice.
Chantal Sutherland, who teamed with the gelding initially in the Santa Anita Handicap, was the first female to ever ride in the Gold Cup, so, obviously, she would have been the first female to win a race which was run for the 72nd time Saturday.
More relaxed than he had been in his victory in the Californian June 4, Twirling Candy sat just off Game On Dude, took a narrow lead briefly in the stretch, but couldn't quite match strides with the Baffert duo near the finish. He's now 0-for-2 at 10 furlongs.