RUN FOR THE 75TH TIME, GOLD CUP IS BREEDERS’ CUP CHALLENGE RACE–WINNER EARNS AUTOMATIC BERTH INTO $5 MILLION CLASSIC AT SANTA ANITA ON NOV. 1
ARCADIA, Calif. (June 28, 2014)–In the blink of an eye, the Sean McCarthy-trained longshot Majestic Harbor powered four-wide leaving the quarter pole and the Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita was, for all intents and purposes, over. With Tyler Baze at the controls, Majestic Harbor blew by pacesetter Fury Kapcori, 4-5 favorite Game On Dude and Clubhouse Ride en route to a dominating 6 ¼ length win while covering 1 ¼ miles in 2:01.53.
It’s often said that pace makes the race, and Saturday’s Gold Cup is a shining example, as Fury Kapcori and Gary Stevens outsprinted Game On Dude and Mike Smith in the run under the wire for the first time and went on to set sizzling fractions of 22.38, 45.39, 1:09.80 and 1:35.14.
“To do this for Sean, it means a whole lot for the guy that stood by my side,” said Baze in reference to the loyalty McCarthy has shown him through personal travails. “He gave me an opportunity to ride this horse first time out (in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 11). “I knew we would win last week after I worked him. I told him we were going to win today. We said if we won today, we’d be going fishing on Sunday, so we might just be leavin’ tomorrow night!”
The fifth choice at 14-1 in a field of seven 3-year-olds and up, Majestic Harbor came off a close third place finish in the Grade II, 1 1/8 miles Californian on May 31 and paid $30.80, $10.60 and $5.40.
Owned by Gallant Stables, LLC, the 6-year-old horse by Rockport Harbor improved his record to 23-6-6-4 and with the winner’s share of $300,000, increased his earnings to $655,764. As the Gold Cup at Santa Anita is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, Majestic Harbor is now assured an automatic berth into the Grade I, $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 1.
“It worked out perfectly for us pace-wise,” said McCarthy. “The horse had a great week, a great 10 days. The T’s were crossed, the I’s were dotted, and you just hope that when you lead him over there, he fires and he fired…I was a little scared when Game On Dude dropped out (under the wire the first time) and Gary had the lead. Gary’s a devil. He can be out there in front and shut that thing down on you and he had a helluva horse to do it with.”
McCarthy indicated that the Grade I, mile and a quarter Pacific Classic on Aug. 24 at Del Mar could be next for Majestic Harbor.
As Fury Kapcori and Game On Dude struggled a quarter mile from home, Clubhouse Ride, with Joe Talamo up, moved in unison with the winner at the rail, and while no match for the winner, he finished a clear second, 1 ¾ lengths in front of late running Imperative and Kent Desormeaux. Off at 5-1, Clubhouse Ride paid $5.60 and $4.00.
Imperative, who came of a major upset in the Grade II Charles Town Classic on April 19, and was off at 6-1, was fifth going into the far turn and finished 4 ½ lengths clear of Game On Dude, paying $4.00 to show.
Game On Dude, who broke from the rail while in search of his third career win in the Gold Cup, which was formerly run at Hollywood Park, was clearly spent at the top of the lane.
“I didn’t want to be going that fast, but by the time we took back, we were already going real fast,” said Smith. When asked if he thought he had a chance to win at the quarter pole, he responded “No.”
Second to Clubhouse Ride in the May 31 Californian, Fury Kapcori broke from post position two and finished a well beaten sixth while ridden for the first time by Stevens for trainer Jerry Holledorfer.
“Jerry and I thought he did his best racing on the lead,” said Stevens. “He’s won on the lead. He told me to take the initiative before. It was a little quicker than I would like but I was comfortable enough midway down the backside. At the end of the day, it was too far for him.”
Academy Award nominated superstar actress Sharon Stone presented the Gold Cup trophy along with Santa Anita Chairman Keith Brackpool.
“To see the dirt on the winning jockey’s face, it’s so emotional,” said Stone. “It means it was so challenging, he had to persevere in order to win. It’s been a great day. The joy of the food, the horses, the people and being in the Chandelier Room, which is so swanky; it’s just fantastic.”
Santa Anita’s 38-day Spring Meet will conclude on Sunday, with the Grade II, 1 ¾ miles San Juan Capistrano headlining a 10-race program. First post time is at 1 p.m., admission gates open at 11 a.m.