This weekend’s Gold Cup at Santa Anita is one of two Breeders’ Cup Challenge Races. The 1 1/4 mile dirt race offers a hefty purse of $500,000 and boasts some serious competition. No two horses will draw more interest than Melatonin and Hoppertunity.
This has undoubtedly been a breakout campaign for Melatonin, who enters the Gold Cup fresh off of wins at the Santa Anita and Oaklawn Handicaps. At his last win on this weekend’s host track, he was a 16/1 longshot. There’s no doubt that he will enter the field this weekend as one of the prime choices of the oddsmakers.
Following right behind him is Hoppertunity, a blistering 5 year-old talent that is coming off a third place showing at the Dubai World Cup. At 4-5-3 in 19 races over his impressive career, Hoppertuinty is going to be a serious threat at this race and is worthy of praise heading in to the competition. He is trained by Bob Baffert, who has a knack for cleaning up in the older age grade.
For the most part, the main interest is with these two but there’s a strong lineup of contenders at the Gold Cup this Saturday. Second Summer and Hard Aces finished in the top-2 at the Californian Cup while Imperative is coming off a promising fourth place at the Charles Town Classic. All three could be major spoilers on the board.
Bal a Bali is the big mystery of the Gold Cup. The 2014 Brazilian Triple Crown winner has yet to win a stakes race in the United States but has come awfully close plenty of times. He has placed second at the 2015 Seabiscuit Handicap, and followed that up with three third place finishes at the San Gabriel Stakes, Frank E. Kilmore and the San Francisco Mile. He last placed 4th at the Charles Whittingham Stakes.