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Excluding the Breeders Cup and Triple Crown, most Grade 1 Races in this day and age are generally terrible betting races. Often times they comprise of 4 and 5 horse fields that we as horseplayers pray will be moved towards the front of the card. The last thing we want is a slam dunk 2-5 shot that is part of both the pick 4 and pick 6. This year’s Gold Cup is the exception to the rule, as you literally can make a case for all 8 that are entered. Even the mare Miss Match, with history definitely against her is a bit interesting. Only 3 females have won this prestigious race in its 73 year history (the last being Princessnesian in 1968) but she comes into the race in great form having just run a close 3rd to the great filly Blind Luck in the Grade 1 Vanity. Twirling Candy will be and should be the post time favorite. He demonstrated tremendous ability and athleticism to overcome a rough trip and still prevail in the Grade 2 Californian at Hollywood on June 4th. He is unquestionably the most talented horse in the field, but to me is a play against for 3 reasons: Can he handle and get the 10 furlongs is a fair and legitimate question. He has only been defeated twice in 9 starts, and one of those defeats was in his only attempt at a mile and a quarter. It was in the Grade 1 SA Handicap, and he did appear to run out of gas that final furlong. Being that he is a very aggressive and difficult horse to ride, I am sure that trainer John Sadler was not thrilled with drawing the rail. He did overcome post 1 in the Californian, but that was at 9 furlongs against weaker competition. Finally his price is just going to be too short in a race that as I already stated is wide-open. The 8 year old gelding Awesome Gem looks to become only the 4th back to back winner of the race. The last to accomplish the feat was Lava Man, whom actually won the race 3 straight years between 05-07. After not hitting the board in 5 straight Graded Stakes, he has come to life in his last 2 starts. He beat a very good field that included Game On Dude in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap, and followed that up with a solid runner up effort in the Grade 3 Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows. He won the Gold cup at 8-1 last year and should be a similar price come Saturday. Bob Baffert has not only had an unbelievable Spring/Summer meeting at Hollywood Park, but he also is a 2 time winner of this race. Winning with Real Quiet in 98 and again with Congaree in 03. He has 2 chances this time around as he will send out both Game On Dude and First Dude. Both have a really good shot, and both possess a major tactical edge over most of the field. There is not much early speed, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the " 2 Dudes" first and second in the early going. I will be gambling that the pace will be slow enough to allow these 2 to maybe be first and second the entire way around. With First Dude being a little quicker, especially with a fairly aggressive Martin Garcia aboard I will be betting that he goes wire to wire in the 74th running of the signature race at Hollywood Park.