77th RUNNING OF PRESTIGIOUS GOLD CUP IS A BREEDERS’ CUP ‘WIN AND YOU’RE IN’ QUALIFIER TO THE $6 MILLION BREEDERS’ CUP CLASSIC AT SANTA ANITA ON NOV. 5
ARCADIA, Calif. (June 25, 2016)–In winning the Santa Anita Handicap on March 12, the David Hofmans-trained Melatonin crashed the party at 16-1. That wasn’t the case on Saturday, as the 5-year-old gelding by Kodiak Kowboy was dispatched as the 9-5 favorite in the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita–and he ran like it–winning by 1 ½ lengths under Joe Talamo while getting a mile and a quarter in 1:59.79.
A gate to wire winner of the Big ‘Cap, Melatonin, who came off a second place finish in the Grade II Oaklawn Handicap April 16, rated kindly in second behind pacesetter Lieutenant Colonel before taking the lead a quarter mile from home.
“He’s a jockey’s dream,” said Talamo. “He just does his thing. He does not have to go to the lead. As you saw, he laid second, comfortably. What impressed me the most about him today was when (runner-up) Win the Space came to him at the eighth pole, he just battled back. He gives you everything he’s got.
“I knew I had a lot of horse turning for home and my horse dug in so nicely. I don’t know what else to say. He’s an unbelievable horse and the sky’s the limit.”
Owned by Susan Osborne’s Tarabilla Farms, Inc., Melatonin paid $5.60, $4.00 and $3.00. Due primarily to a rare neurological disorder, Melatonin earned but $132,552 prior to this year. With his win in today’s Gold Cup, he picked up $300,000, running his 2016 earnings to $1,086,000. With five wins from 13 starts, his career earnings stand at $1,218,552.
“I think we gave him enough time to get rid of that awful thing in his body (Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis or EPM),” said Hofmans. “I think that held him back and since we got rid of that, he’s developed into such a nice horse.
“I’m normally low key but today I was really nervous. It was his big test today. I thought there were some quality horses in here that he had to beat in order to think about going on (to bigger things). The difference is that today he validated himself. Any horse can beat any horse, on any given day. But to do it again, and maybe even again, then you start thinking.
“We were gunning for the Breeders’ Cup Classic anyway, but to win this is quite a bonus.” (Note: The Gold Cup is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In Challenge Race guaranteeing Melatonin an automatic berth, with fees paid, into the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 5).
Ridden by Gary Stevens, longshot Win the Space sat a close third at the rail and rallied three-wide outside the winner turning for home and was head and head with Melatonin inside the furlong pole. The biggest price in the field of eight at 24-1, he paid $24.80 and $9.40.
“It was a huge run,” said Stevens. “It was a fun race. He settled great for his first time going a mile and a quarter and it was just a really professional race from him. Great job and well done by everybody in that barn.”
Last year’s winner, Hard Aces, sat closer to the pace than he normally does and finished three quarters of a length behind Win the Space while holding off Hoppertunity by a nose for third money. Ridden by Santiago Gonzalez, Hard Aces was off at 8-1 and paid $5.00 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.83, 47.70, 1:11.48 and 1:35.52.
Racing resumes with a nine-race card on Sunday at Santa Anita. First post time is at 1:30 p.m. Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m.