ARCADIA, Calif. (May 27, 2017)–Idle since Sept. 24, Bob Baffert’s Cupid was plenty fit Saturday as he rolled to a convincing 3 ¼ length win in the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita, negotiating a mile and a quarter in a rapid 2:00.89 under Rafael Bejarano.
Run at Hollywood Park from 1938 through 2013, the Gold Cup was contested for the 78th time time and the amazing Baffert chalked up his sixth win in the iconic fixture for three year olds and up–two behind the legendary Charlie Whittingham.
A comfortable fourth down the backside and into the far turn, Cupid, a 4-year-old gray colt by Tapit, then kicked into gear, easily overhauling both Midnight Storm and pacesetter American Freedom turning for home.
“Cupid, off that long layoff…His class showed up and he’s been working so well,” said Baffert. “…I told Bejarano he was going to ride Cupid. He liked American Freedom, but I wanted to do it differently…(This horse) has changed a lot. He’s really filled out. he’s always been a beautiful horse…We took the back roads with him last year and made over a million dollars.
“(The owners) have been great and they’ve kept him in training…We freshened him up and here we are. I got an important Grade I which is very important for a horse like him.”
Sidelined following a dismal effort in the Grade II Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 24, Cupid went to the bench with victories in the Grade II West Virginia Derby, the Grade II Indiana Derby and the Grade II Rebel Stakes.
Off at 7-1 in a field of seven, he paid $16.00, $8.20 and $6.00.
“My horse broke really well,” said Bejarano, who snared his first-ever Gold Cup win. “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.”
Owned by Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith, Cupid, in collecting his first Grade I win, improved his overall mark to 10-5-1-0. With the winner’s share of $300,000, he increased his earnings to $1,636,803.
While Cupid had an idyllic trip, Follow Me Crev, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, had anything but, as he was sandwiched leaving the gate by the winner’s stablemate, American Freedom and morning line favorite Midnight Storm.
A gallant second from far off the pace, Follow Me Crev, the third choice in the wagering at 7-2, finished 2 ¾ lengths in front of a late closing Hard Aces and paid $4.80 and $3.20.
“I was taken out of the race in the first jump,” said Desormeaux. “It was phenomenal effort by the Wilson’s (owners, Holly and David) horse because he took a punch and body blow the first jump. Ridiculous. A mile and a quarter. These guys can’t drive. I would have been a couple lengths behind him (the winner) and instead I was 20 back. My horse has more speed than where I was today.”
A winner of the 2015 Gold Cup, Hard Aces, under Santiago Gonzalez, was up to touch Midnight Storm by a nose and paid $5.60 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.04, 46.52, 1:10.62 and 1:35.37.