Hoppertunity Probable Favorite For Santa Anita’s Gold Cup

by | 06.20.2016 | 5:51pm
Hoppertunity (right) gets his nose down first in the San Antonio

The second of this year's Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You're In” Series for the Breeders' Cup Classic approaches on Saturday, June 25. The $500,000 Gold Cup, held at the now-defunct Hollywood Park through 2013, is in its third year at Santa Anita, and a strong field is likely for the 2016 edition of the 10 furlong race. The winner will receive an all-entry fees paid berth to the 2016 Breeders' Cup Classic.

Bob Baffert announced to the Daily Racing Form on Sunday that Hoppertunity would likely go postward in the Gold Cup following an impressive workout on Saturday, in which the 5-year-old son of Any Given Saturday breezed six furlongs in 1:12.20. Prior to that workout, Baffert had been leaning toward a campaign at Del Mar with Hoppertunity, who most recently finished third in the Dubai World Cup, four lengths behind California Chrome. Provided that he goes in the Gold Cup, Hoppertunity will likely be the favorite in the race.

A rider for Hoppertunity has not yet been decided upon, as Flavien Prat, aboard the horse for his last several starts, is booked to ride Bal A Bali for trainer Richard Mandella. Bal A Bali was most recently fourth as the favorite in the G2 Charles Whittingham Stakes on the turf at Santa Anita; in fact, the Brazilian native has never raced off the turf in his 21 starts. But Prat told the Daily Racing Form that he thinks Bal A Bali will appreciate both the 1 1/4 mile distance and the dirt course in the Gold Cup.

Other probable entries for the Gold Cup include David Hofmans' Melatonin, winner of the Santa Anita Handicap and most recently second behind Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap; Peter Eurton's Second Summer, winner of the G2 Californian (nine furlongs on the dirt at Santa Anita) who is riding a three-race win streak; John Sadler's Hard Aces, second in the Californian and the winner of last year's Gold Cup; Vladimir Cerin's Follow Me Crev (fifth in the Californian); Richard Baltas' Imperative, most recently fourth in the Charles Town Classic; Jerry Hollendorfer's Lieutenant Colonel, most recently third in the Californian; and and George Papaprodromou's Win the Space, a three-time winner who has yet to be successful in graded stakes company.

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