Santa Anita: How to bet the 2023 Hollywood Gold Cup

May 28th, 2023

Conditioner Bob Baffert has the two main players in Monday’s historic $400,000 Hollywood Gold Cup S. (G1) at Santa Anita. And it’s difficult to look past his duo in the 1 1/4-mile test.

#1 Country Grammer captured the event in 2021, and the $14 million earner gets the nod under Flavien Prat. The son of Tonalist has compiled a fine 4-2-2-0 mark in his lifetime on the Santa Anita surface and comes into his first start since returning from the desert with five good morning spins on the course.

A winner of the Dubai World Cup (G1) in 2022, the Kentucky-bred failed to hit the board in the event this campaign but did precede that performance with a runner-up showing in the lucrative Saudi Cup (G1) in his seasonal bow. The six-year-old bay has the gate presence to stay in touch in the early stages, and I expect him to receive an advantageous ground-saving trip to the top of the stretch on Monday.

Potential pacesetter #3 Defunded has been in fine form since the fall and is an obvious inclusion in the six-horse field. The Dialed In gelding, who finished second by a length in the 2022 edition of the race, was last seen streaking home a classy, three-length winner of the Californian S. (G2) on the oval while showing a new dimension, and any improvement off that outing will make the Grade 1 victor awfully tough to deny in his second off the short absence. In a field lacking a lot of pace, I fully expect jockey Juan Hernandez to put the chestnut on the front end and to dictate things through moderate early fractions.

#2 Senor Buscador is the lone wildcard in the field as he will make both his local, and 10-furlong, debut on this occasion. The five-year-old son of Mineshaft is not overly consistent, but he has put in some huge performances in his career and comes off a nice prep run when fourth in the Oaklawn H. (G2) behind a trio of proven runners. Kentucky-bred bay has room for improvement with just 10 career tries to date and will benefit from picking up Luis Saez for the initial time.

Hollywood Gold Cup Wagers

  • $30 win #1 Country Grammer ($30)
  • $15 trifecta 1 with 3 with 2 ($15)
  • $5 trifecta 1 with 2 with 3 ($5)