Santa Anita's Hollywood Gold Cup Announces Contenders for 5/30/22

Stilleto Boy headlines the field for the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup. (Benoit Photo)
Post PositionsHorse
1There Goes Harvard
2Royal Ship
5Stilleto Boy

Stilleto Boy the Standout in Hollywood Gold Cup

A devastating winner of the Grade 2 Californian April 30, trainer Ed Moger’s front running Stilleto Boy looms a solid favorite to win the 84thrunning of the Grade 1, $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on May 30 at Santa Anita. Won by the legendary Seabiscuit in its inaugural running at Hollywood Park, the Gold Cup will be contested by a field of five 3-year-olds and up at 10 furlongs.

Stilleto Boy, a 4-year-old gelding by Shackleford, will be making his fourth start of the meet and he’s never been better, evidenced by his lofty 108 Beyer Speed Figure in the mile and one eighth Californian. A well beaten third by superstar sprinter Flightline in the opening day Grade 1 Malibu going seven furlongs on Dec. 26, Stilleto Boy was subsequently a huge third, beaten 4 ¼ lengths by Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Life Is Good in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream Park Jan. 29.

A disappointing third, beaten nine lengths in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap March 5, Stilleto Boy, ridden for the first time by Juan Hernandez, employed much more aggressive tactics in the Californian and was thus never seriously threatened by Big ‘Cap winner Express Train, who has opted to skip the Gold Cup.

“I thought he ran a winning race in Florida and I think he ran just as good today,” said Moger following the Californian. “He beat a good horse today. We’ve been thinking about the Hollywood Gold Cup as long as he ran good here.”

Owned by Moger’s brother, Steve Moger, Stilleto Boy, who will try 1 1/4-miles for the third time, is 15-3-3-6 overall with earnings of $1,031,175.

Richard Mandella’s Brazilian-bred Royal Ship, second beaten a head in last year’s Gold Cup, comes off a five-length win in the ungraded John Shear Mile April 10 and will likely try to ensure Stilleto Boy doesn’t get away with soft early fractions on Monday.

Ridden exclusively in nine North American starts by Mike Smith, Royal Ship, who earned a 103 Beyer in the Shear Mile, will again get the services of one of America’s greatest big money riders as both Mandella and Smith seek their third victories in the Gold Cup.

A 6-year-old gelding, Royal Ship is owned by Fox Hill Farms, Inc. and Siena Farm, LLC and will be bidding for his first stateside Grade 1 victory. With an overall mark of 16-7-2-3, he has earnings of $342,405.

Originally trained by Bob Baffert, Defunded, in his first start for Sean McCarthy, pressed the early pace en route to a big 3 ½ length score going one mile in a second condition allowance here May 8, his first race since Aug. 8 of last year at Del Mar. With Abel Cedillo back aboard, look for Defunded to be ridden aggressively in the early going.

Owned by Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman, Defunded, a 4-year-old gelding by Dialed In, will be trying a mile and one quarter for the first time in what will be his ninth career start. With three wins, two seconds and one third, he has earnings of $257,100.

McCarthy will also saddle another Baffert alum, Spielberg, who was distanced by Stilleto Boy in the Californian, finishing third by 24 ¼ lengths. Well beaten in both the Grade II San Pasqual Feb. 5 and in the Big ‘Cap, Spielberg, a 4-year-old colt by Union Rags out of the Smart Strike mare Miss Squeal, will be ridden by Flavien Prat, who won two races with him, including the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity, before shifting his tack to Kentucky and New York.

Owned by SF Racing, LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, LLC, et al, Spielberg is 13-3-3-2 with earnings of $538,900.

A sharp horse trying graded stakes competition for the first time,There Goes Harvard comes off a pair of allowance wins, the most recent at one mile on turf here May 14. A 4 ¾ length winner going 1 1/16 miles on the main track April 17, his chances are bolstered by the fact he’ll be ridden for the first time by three-time Eclipse Award winning Irad Ortiz, Jr. Owned and bred by Cannon Thoroughbreds, LLC, There Goes Harvard is trained by Michael McCarthy.

A 4-year-old colt by Will Take Charge out of the Fusaichi Pegasus mare Soul Crusader, There Goes Harvard is 11-3-5-2 with earnings of $215,090.