- Short field syndrome, which plagued stakes races at Belmont Park this past weekend, hops cross-country where Saturday's Hollywood Gold Cup has drawn just four challengers to Lava Man; and the Swaps has attracted just four runners. Yuck.
Lava Man will have a chance to make some history on Saturday. He can become the first horse since the Cal-bred Native Diver won the race three consecutive times in 1965-67 to win it even twice in a row. He can become the first runner since Exceller to take both the Hollywood Turf Handicap (now known as the Whittingham) and the Gold Cup in the same year. John Henry, Vigors and Cougar II were all unsuccessful when campaigned to attempt that double. [Sign On San Diego] And, according to Bloodhorse.com, he can surpass Budroyale as the richest claiming horse, meaning, I suppose, the richest horse that at one time ran for a claiming price.
Seek Gold is in the race after his spectacular rally in the Stephen Foster. His trainer Ron Moquett said “It would take a team effort to beat him, I believe,” but with Lava Man looking like the only speed in the field, which also includes Magnum and Ace Blue, it looks like the team just isn’t there. You wonder why Moquett would pick this spot, especially on the speed-favoring California track. He says he left it up to jockey Calvin Borel. "[I told myself that if he breezed good, I'd let Calvin help me decide.....Calvin said 'California, here I come.' Houston Chronicle]
Besides, trainer Doug O'Neill says that Lava Man is doing fantastic.
"I think the grass races kind of helped freshen him up. His training has been as good as it has been going into the last few races, and we are expecting a really big effort. Knock on wood, I can't recall him ever being better. Hopefully, we are saying that after Saturday." [Bloodhorse]The Swaps will feature a rematch between Point Determined and AP Warrior, so I guess most won’t mind that there are only two others in here, including Arson Squad, who ran third when the top two slugged it out nose-to-nose in the Affirmed. Baffert is seeking his 4th Swaps win. Baffert won previously with Captain Steve in 2000, Congaree in 2001, and During in 2003.