Weekend Stakes Action: Hollywood Gold Cup Edition

Can Little Mike shake off a Dubai hangover? - Harry How

Game On Dude will face a field of just four rivals in Saturday's Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, the final running of this historic race at Hollywood Park.

With the Fourth of July in the rear-view mirror, the summer racing begins to heat up. Monmouth Park features a pair of graded stakes on their Saturday card, while Hollywood Park will also offer two graded races. On Sunday, Woodbine will feature the Queen's Plate for three-year-old Canadian-breds, along with the G2-Dance Smartly, G3-Singspiel and G2-Highlander.

G2-Slavator Mile, Post Time 5:20 pm ET
PP Horse Jockey Trainer ML
1 Racing Daoust V. Santiago C. Carlisimo, Jr. 30/1
2 Big Sur R. Moya R. Moya 15/1
3 Lucy's Bob Boy G. Larrosa S. Dono 4/1
4 Csaba J. Bravo P. Gleaves 3/1
5 Bowman's Beast R. Alvarado C. Lynch 6/1
6 Discreet Dancer J. Rosario T. Pletcher 9/5
7 Small Town Talk P. Cotto C. Simon 10/1
8 Private Tale J. Pimentel M. Trombetta 5/1

Turning first to the races Saturday at Monmouth Park, Lucy's Bob Boy (4/1) is an intriguing gelding in the G3-Salvatore Mile after dominating every horse on the grounds at Charles Town for the last couple of years. He's won 13 of 16 overall, and nine of his last ten that appear on the page. Of course, the major caveat is that Monmouth and the Salvatore Mile is a big change from running in West Virginia-bred allowance and stakes races at Charles Town but, on paper, his numbers suggest he could compete at this level if he's at his absolute best. I think the major issue for this shipper is that he clearly prefers to be up and on the lead (although he's won when stalking a couple of times) but I think he'll find the pace competition a bit tougher in this spot.

Speaking of horses that won't make it easy on Lucy's Bob Boy in the early part of his race, Casba, morning line favorite Discreet Dancer, and Bowman's Beast draw direction outside of the West Virginia gelding and likely won't give him an easy trip. (And, really, Small Town Talk could provide some pressure to the early pace should they decide to get aggressive from the gate.)

While it's hard to bet against Rosario, Pletcher and Discreet Dancer in this spot, I'm leaning towards a bit of a mid-shot in Private Tale (5/1), a gelding that fits at the distance and can come from off the pace. I don't know if he's good enough to run down Discreet Dancer (assuming the fav is running free up front at the top of the lane, but perhaps he'll get enough help to give him a shot in the final furlong.

G1-United Nations; Post Time 6:00 pm ET
PP Horse Jockey Trainer ML
1 Wilcox Inn J. Graham M. Stidham 5/1
2 Big Blue Kitten J. Bravo C. Brown 4/1
3 Russian Greek R. Barber G. Dorochenko 30/1
4 Teaks North E. Castro M. Nevin 4/1
5 Skyring G. Stevens D.W. Lukas 9/2
6 Harrods Creek E. Trujillo W. Mott 8/1
7 Little Mike J. Rosario D. Romans 2/1
8 Hangover Kid G. Saez J. Servis 20/1

Turning to the feature race at Monmouth, the G1-United Nations, I want to like Wilcox Inn in this race but I'm just not sold on him going a mile and three-eighths and running down a probably-loose-on-the-lead Little Mike. However, I do think Teaks North (4/1) could get a great trip right behind the favorite, and at possibly nice odds.

What to do with Little Mike? He's been impressive here in North America but he flopped oh-so-badly in Dubai (what else is new for American turf horses in the UAE); what does this gelding have in the tank for his first start back in North America? I'm guessing he's going to be happy getting back on Lasix but is he ready for a top effort right now? Does he need one to win this race? If he runs his race, he wins because he's the best, most accomplished horse in the field. But if he's at 80 or 85%, perhaps an upset is possible.

I'll take a shot with Teaks North and Big Blue Kitten and hope for a Dubai hangover for Little Mike.

A tough day for graded stakes races at Hollywood Park if you like big fields; the G2-Royal Heroine drew a field of six while the G1-Hollywood Gold Cup a field of just five. In the Royal Heroine, My Gi Gi is the only filly in the field to consistently line up against graded stakes company, but she doesn't exactly cash a ton of checks or get her picture takes very often (11-2-3-0). That being said, she's drawn into a race that looks to be Grade 2 in name only.

Schiaparelli and Joe Talamo should have every opportunity to control the pace of this race from the moment the gates open, and that might be all it takes for this mare to navigate her way to the winner's circle.

G1-Hollywood Gold Cup; Post Time 8:00 pm ET
PP Horse Jockey Trainer ML
1 Clubhouse Ride J. Talamo C. Lewis 2/1
2 Game On Dude M. Smith B. Baffert 4/5
3 Oilisblackgold E. Maldanado C. Dollase 10/1
4 Kettle Corn R. Bejarano J. Sadler 5/1
5 Sky Kingdom M. Garcia B. Baffert 8/1

As for the Hollywood Gold Cup: seems like this one will play out in a fairly easy-to-predict manner: Game On Dude will try go to the lead and his four rivals will have to run him down in the stretch. If Clubhouse Ride runs a big one, perhaps he can reel in the favorite.

Oilisblackgold is 13-0-5-4 on synthetics. I'm not banking on him breaking through in this spot.

I have had a chance to really look much at the races at Woodbine for Sunday but the Queen's Plate looks like it will once again be a great race to bet and watch. Up With The Birds loves running at Woodbine (4-3-0-1) but will face a tough group of fillies and colts on the Woodbine Polytrack.

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