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Golden Missile Set To Explode

As expected, starting highweight Golden Missile has been installed as the heavy favorite in the 64th running of the $500,000 Grade 3 Hawthorne Gold Cup. Projected to go off at 6-5 by morning linemaker Jim Miller, Stronach Stables' Golden Missile, trained by Joseph Orseno, will be making his second attempt to capture the coveted first prize in this historic event.

In last year's Gold Cup, Golden Missile made a valiant attempt, as the odds-on favorite, to catch Peter Harris' front-running Supreme Sound, a five-year-old Michael Dickinson charge, who been allowed the luxury of an uncontested lead. Golden Missile collared Supreme Sound at the top of the stretch and was able to narrow the gap between the two but, in the end, a nose separated them at the wire.

In 1997, when Hawthorne Racing Secretary Gary Duch repositioned the Hawthorne Gold Cup to this early October date, he and Hawthorne's management envisioned the Gold Cup becoming an important prep race for the Breeders' Cup. With Buck's Boy (1997) and Stronach's Awesome Again (1998) going on to win Breeders' Cup events and Golden Missile finishing a close third at over 75-1, it seems to have worked.

Guided Tour might offer the most serious challenge. This 4-year-old has been improving by leaps and bounds. He's now won his last four races and has been taking on better company with every start. He won the Grade 3 Hall Of Fame Breeders' Cup Handicap at Thistledown by daylight and he had control by the time they left the far turn.

Steven Gula's Mula Gula has been more successful on the turf, but solid form and good tactical speed on the main track should keep him in contention throughout.

Hawthorne Derby Attracts Ten

The 36th edition of the $250,000 Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby appears to be a more competitive race. At 2-1 on the morning line, Three Wonders is likely to go off as the favorite.

A close fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Saranac Handicap at Saratoga in his most recent start followed two strong victories at Delaware and Churchill Downs. Kent Desormeaux will ride this Elliot Walden trained 3-year-old for owner Mark Stanley.

Nip & Goldsher's Hymn, trained by Richard Lundy, never really fired in the Grade 1 Secretariat at Arlington in his most recent appearance, but he was a close-up second in the Grade 2 American Derby in his prior appearance. Though he didn't show it in his last, Hymn owns very good tactical speed. He's likely to be racing in the first tier of runners from start to finish.

Darkman could be the sleeper. He won his last three races, including two turf events, by daylight and will be racing with the benefit of first-time Lasix. He's never met company at this level but you have to love the way he's going.

Lonley Place (Ire) is another who could slip in for a share, probably at a huge price. This Irish import beat older company in last and he has shown the ability to handle softer turf. His good closing move should benefit from all the speed, and probable fast pace, in this race.

Hawthorne Gold Cup entries

Hawthorne Derby entries

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