Alpha and Last Gunfighter to Battle in Hawthorne Gold Cup
The Grade 2, $350,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap, Presented by Xpressbet was drawn on Tuesday with a very talented and competitive field set to line up. The Gold Cup will go as race eight of the Saturday 9 race card with a post time of 5:45 PM. The Hawthorne Gold Cup will be run at the class distance of 1 ¼ miles on Hawthorne's main track.
The Hawthorne Gold Cup, Presented by Xpressbet, will be the highlight of a one hour live broadcast on WGN Television in Chicago from 5:00 – 6:00 PM. The broadcast will cover two Hawthorne races with a focus on the Gold Cup as interviews and features will join the live race coverage.
Heading the field for the Gold Cup is Last Gunfighter. Trained by Chad Brown, Last Gunfighter has won four of seven starts on the year. Two of those wins have come in Grade 3 company as he won the Excelsior Handicap on March 23 at Aqueduct and the Iselin at Monmouth on August 18. After a fifth-place effort in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, Last Gunfighter was closing late in the Breeders' Cup Classic to run fifth. Last Gunfighter will be ridden in the Hawthorne Gold Cup by Joe Bravo and is 9-5 favorite in the morning line.
Second choice in the Hawthorne Gold Cup is Grade 1 winner Alpha from the barn of Kiaran McLaughlin. Following a tremendous 2012 season where also earned over $1 million, his four-year-old season kicked off in Dubai with a pair of starts. He finished fifth of 16 starters in the Godolphin Mile on March 30 before returning to North America. Following a fourth-place effort in the Grade 2 Suburban Handicap and a sixth-place effort in the Grade 1 Whitney, Alpha posted a game victory in the Grade 1 Woodward Handicap at Saratoga on August 31. His most recent start was a troubled eighth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. To be ridden by Eddie Castro, Alpha is 3-1 in the morning line.
Cross-entered for Friday's Clark Handicap at Churchill is third choice in the Gold Cup morning line, Prayer for Relief. Trained by Steve Asmussen, Prayer for Relief has hit the board in four of five starts on the year, posting wins in the Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows and the Governor's Cup at Remington. Chris Emigh is named to ride Prayer for Relief as he is listed at 7-2 in the morning line.
Also coming off a Breeders' Cup effort is Suns Out Guns Out as he rated close and challenged throughout in the Marathon, ultimately finishing fourth in that event. Trained by Dale Romans, Suns Out Guns Out has a pair of wins in 2013 while hitting the board in six of his 10 starts. Local favorite Francisco Torres is listed to Ride Suns Out Guns Out and is 8-1 in the morning line.
From the barn of Mike Maker, Derby Kitten comes in for top owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey. A winner twice in 2013, Derby Kitten has hit the board in seven of eight starts on the year. Channing Hill will ride Derby Kitten as he is 10-1 in the morning line.
Local runner Mister Marti Gras draws the rail for trainer Chris Block as the six-year-old gelding is approaching $1 million in career earnings. The winner of this summer's Mystic Lake Mile at Canterbury, Mister Marti Gras ran fourth in last year's edition of the Hawthorne Gold Cup. Eddie Perez is listed to ride Mister Marti Gras at 12-1.
Hattaash comes from the barn of trainer Cheryl Winebaugh. A four time winner in 2013, Hattaash nearly pulled off the upset in the Grade 3 Washington Park Handicap, losing by less than a length. A winner over the Hawthorne surface earlier in the meet, Hattaash gets Emanuel Esquivel aboard once again and is 15-1 in the morning line.
Trainer Greg Geier has a pair entered in the Gold Cup as three-year-olds Street Spice and Fordubai will take to the track. Street Spice has posted three wins at Hawthorne, most recently defeating older runners in an optional claiming allowance. Fordubai finished second in the spring's Grade 3 Illinois Derby, and posted a pair of victories during the summer at Arlington. Alex Canchari rides Street Spice at 20-1 and Diego Sanchez will be aboard 30-1 shot Fordubai.
The field for the Grade 2, $350,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup:
|PP Horse Jockey M/L
1 Mister Marti Gras E.E. Perez 12-1
2 Derby Kitten C. Hill 10-1
3 Last Gunfighter J. Bravo 9-5
4 Hattaash E. Esquivel 15-1
5 Alpha E. Castro 3-1
6 Fordubai D. Sanchez 30-1
7 Prayer for Relief C. Emigh 7-2
8 Suns Out Guns Out F. Torres 8-1
9 Street Spice A. Canchari 20-1