2023 Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes at a Glance

Defunded, Country Grammer, Bob Baffert, 2023 Hollywood Gold Cup, Santa Anita Park
Defunded will try to get the best of Bob Baffert-trained stablemate Country Grammer in the 2023 Hollywood Gold Cup. (Evers/Eclipse Sportswire)

The Hollywood Gold Cup is a historically significant Southern California race that bridges generations of outstanding classic-type racehorses and Hall of Fame personalities who won this famed 1 ¼ mile race, which was moved to Santa Anita Park in 2014 following the closure of Hollywood Park.


Racetrack: Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, Calif.

Date: May 29

Purse: $400,000

Distance: 1 1/4 miles

Race: 8

Post Time: 7:44 p.m. ET

Notable winners: Country Grammer (2021), Vino Rosso (2019), Accelerate (2018), Game On Dude (2012, 2013), Lava Man (2005, 2006, 2007), Real Quiet (1999), Skip Away (1998), Cigar (1995), Best Pal (1993), Ferdinand (1987), Affirmed (1979), Ack Ack (1971), Native Diver (1965, 1966, 1967), Gallant Man (1958), Round Table (1957), Swaps (1956), Citation (1951), Seabiscuit (1938)

First Held: 1938

From inaugural victor Seabiscuit in 1938 to 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation, who won the Hollywood Gold Cup in 1951. From 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, the 1979 Hollywood Gold Cup victor, through recent standouts like $14.8-million earner Country Grammer, the list of winners reads like a “who’s who” of California stars of the handicap and older male divisions. Likewise, it’s a race that has been won nine times by Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. and eight times each by Hall of Fame trainers Charlie Whittingham and Bob Baffert

Baffert has a pair of entrants this year with a terrific chance to overtake Whittingham as the all-time winningest Hollywood Gold Cup trainer. Let’s take a closer look at the field.

1. Country Grammer (8-5): He’s a big-time racehorse when he’s on his game, as he was in 2021 when he won this race and in 2022 when he won the Dubai World Cup. Started off the year well with a victory in the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes and a runner-up finish in the $20-million Saudi Cup but disappointed when seventh in the Dubai World Cup. He’s been training well. The pick.

JOCKEY: Flavien Prat; TRAINER: Bob Baffert

2. Senor Buscador (5-1): He’s sort of an every-other-race type of runner and, if he follows that pattern, he’s due to run a big one on Monday. He’s won some quality races, but this would be a career-defining victory. Expect him to run well but it might not be enough for a trip to the winner’s circle.

JOCKEY: Luis Saez; TRAINER: Todd Fincher

3. Yes This Time (15-1): Enters the race off back-to-back seconds, but those races (like most of his lifetime starts) came on turf and he’s winless in one try on dirt. This is a tough spot on what does not appear to be his preferred surface.

JOCKEY: Kazushi Kimura; TRAINER: Mark Glatt

4. Defunded (4-5): The odds-one favorite coming off a dominant three-length win in the Grade 2 Californian Stakes on April 22. He’s been stellar in his last five starts, all against elite competition, but he has run out of stamina late in his two tries at 1 ¼ miles after setting the pace.

JOCKEY: Juan Hernandez; TRAINER: Bob Baffert

5. Piroli (15-1): This is a big class test but he’s been fantastic in four starts this year with three wins and one third and the best speed figures of his career. Sure, it’s Piroli’s stakes debut, but he looks like a must-use in exotics at his 15-1 morning-line price for a trainer-jockey tandem that clicks at 28% together with a strong return on investment.

JOCKEY: Kent Desormeaux; TRAINER: Michael McCarthy

6. Kiss Today Goodbye (12-1): He’s run well in graded stakes before, including a win in the San Antonio Stakes in 2020, but he’s unplaced in his last five races and would need a significant form reversal to be a factor. At least the price should be right.

JOCKEY: Hector Berrios; TRAINER: Eric Kruljac

THE PICK: Country Grammer



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