|Contact: Eric Wing, NTRA, (212) 907-9283|
Jeff Shapes, (203) 249-9202
SUNDAY'S HOLLYWOOD GOLD CUP KICKS OFF "ROAD TO THE WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS" ON ESPN NETWORKS
"Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships," a 3½-month, 16-program, 41-race series on the ESPN networks, kicks off this Sunday with the live telecast of the Grade I, $750,000 Hollywood Gold Cup from Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. Airtime is 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.
The series will feature key World Thoroughbred Championships prep races in all eight Breeders' Cup Divisions and will include such major International Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships races as the King George & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes from England, the Irish Champion Stakes from Ireland and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe from France. The series culminates with a one-hour Breeders' Cup Special, on October 25, the day before Breeders' Cup XIX is held at Arlington Park.
One of the nation's premier races for older horses, the 1¼-mile Hollywood Gold Cup has proven to be a significant stepping stone to the Breeders' Cup Classic as two Gold Cup winners, Ferdinand in 1987 and Cigar in 1995, went on to capture the Breeders' Cup Classic the same year, while 1988 Gold Cup runner-up Alysheba followed Ferdinand into the Breeders' Cup Classic winner's circle.
Favored in Sunday's race will be the Bobby Frankel-trained Milwaukee Brew, attempting to add the Gold Cup to his win last March in the Santa Anita Handicap, for a sweep of California's top two handicap events. In his last race, Milwaukee Brew, tied for fourth in the Classic Division of the World Thoroughbred Rankings, won the Californian in June at Hollywood.
A field of six is expected in the Gold Cup. Joining Milwaukee Brew should be the Dallas Stewart-trained Dollar Bill, coming off a runner-up finish in the Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs last month. Also likely to run are Sky Jack, who has won four straight at Hollywood, including the Mervyn LeRoy his last time out; Out Of Mind, the Mervyn LeRoy winner in 2000; Momentum and Macaneo.
Sunday's program will also feature same day coverage of the Grade II, $500,000 Swaps Stakes, a 1 1/8-miles race for three-year-olds. The likely favorite in the expected field of six should be the Paco Gonzalez-trained Came Home, who won the Santa Anita Derby in April. Following a failed attempt in the Kentucky Derby behind War Emblem, Came Home returned with a successful effort in the Affirmed Handicap at Hollywood last month, giving jockey Chris McCarron a victory in the final race of his Hall of Fame career. On Sunday, Mike Smith picks up the riding assignment on Came Home.
Other probable Swaps starters include Affirmed runner-up Tracemark, Fonz's, Like A Hero, Sugar Babe and Battler Bob.
Hosting Sunday's telecast will be Jeff Medders, joined by analyst Randy Moss, reporter Jay Privman and feature reporter Eleanor Mondale.
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