Jockey Chantal Sutherland celebrates aboard Game On Dude after their victory… (Benoit Photo )
There will be more at stake for the talented gelding Game On Dude on Saturday at Betfair Hollywood Park than merely the prestige of winning one of Southern California's classic thoroughbred races.
When Game On Dude breaks from the gate under jockey Chantal Sutherland as the probable favorite in the Hollywood Gold Cup's field of seven, a victory will also bring an automatic second shot at the next big deal in horse racing this year. That would be the $5-million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 3 at Santa Anita. The Gold Cup is one of six races designated by the Breeders' Cup as worthy of an automatic entry to its winner.
A Breeders' Cup Classic return would be especially meaningful for Sutherland and trainer Bob Baffert, because Game On Dude had the lead in the home stretch of the Classic last year and was only passed in a last burst by Drosselmeyer, ridden by Sutherland's ex-boyfriend, Mike Smith.
The Gold Cup will be run at a mile and a quarter, over Hollywood Park's Cushion Track. It is a Grade I, $500,000 race. A second Baffert-trained horse, Richard's Kid, has been made the 5-2 second favorite in the morning line odds — Game On Dude is at 4/5.
A filly named Love Theway Youare will make a rare appearance in the Gold Cup. The last female runner to win this race was Princessnesian in 1968.
Game On Dude, owned in part by baseball legend Joe Torre, will carry top weight of 124 pounds, four more than Richard's Kid.