The Coolmore partners' Cupid returned to the races from an eight-month layoff to dominate the G1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on Saturday, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over a troubled Follow Me Crev. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano for Bob Baffert, the 4-year-old son of Tapit covered 1 1/4 miles over the fast main track in 2:00.89, earning his first Grade 1 victory at odds of 7-1.
“We took the back roads with Cupid last year and made over a million dollars,” said Baffert, who was recording his sixth win in the Gold Cup. “Coolmore has been great and they kept him in training. They asked me if I thought he'd get better and I thought he should. We freshened him up and here we are. I got an important Grade I which is very important for a horse like him.”
American Freedom broke a bit off-balance, clobbering Follow Me Crev at the start and relegating him to the back of the field. American Freedom went on to take the lead heading toward the first turn, holding Prime Attraction and Midnight Storm off by a half-length through the first quarter in 23.04 seconds. Midnight Storm took back to lay off the early pace, and he was followed by Cupid about four lengths off the pacesetter. American Freedom drew out to a one-length advantage after a half in 46.52 seconds, spreading out Prime Attraction and Midnight Storm a length apart in second and third.
Approaching the far turn, those laying off the pace began to close in on American Freedom, with Midnight Storm and Cupid ranging into contention on the outside. Midnight Storm briefly held the lead, but Cupid Took over at the head of the stretch and immediately burst out to a two-length lead. He continued to draw away from his rivals down the stretch, crossing the wire 3 1/4 lengths in front. Follow Me Crev came from well off the pace to pick up the pieces in second, with Hard Aces third and Midnight Storm fading to fourth.
“My horse broke really well,” Bejarano said. “I put a little pressure on at the half-mile pole. When I got to the stretch and was in the clear I thought I had a lot of horse and the race was over.”
Bred in Kentucky by JKG Thoroughbreds, Cupid was a $900,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase. He captured a trio of G2 victories in his sophomore season, but missed the Kentucky Derby due to a breathing problem. The Gold Cup victory improves his record to five wins from 10 starts, with earnings of over $1.6 million.
Watch the race replay here:
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