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ARCADIA, CA – WinStar Farm’s Country Grammer re-broke halfway home while racing inside Royal Ship, a move that put the 9/5 favorite back ahead just in time to take Monday’s $300,000 Hollywood Gold Cup (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
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Country Grammer broke from post 2 under Flavien Prat and sat just off the right hip of Brown Storm, who posted opening fractions of :22.92, :47.16, and 1:12.09 through the first 6 furlongs.
With Royal Ship ranging up to flank his outside on the backstretch, Country Grammer moved forward in the far turn and put away a fading Brown Storm, but Royal Ship stayed with his every step.
Exiting the far turn, Royal Ship and jockey Mike Smith took the lead, but Country Grammer battled back with renewed vigor as they passed the 1/8 pole, eventually retaking the lead near the 1/16 pole.
A January 2021 acquisition from the dispersal of the late Paul Pompa Jr., Country Grammer’s second start for WinStar saw him cross the wire first by a head, completing the 1 1/4-mile fast dirt route in 2:02.23.
“He ran super well,” Prat said. “He broke well and I was able to get myself in a good spot. I was a little bit worried when I saw Mike Smith on the outside of me; I wish I could have kept him inside. … Mike took the lead on me, but my horse was really game to come back.”
4 1/4 lengths behind the top pair, Express Train took third by a 1/2-length over Rushie, but the rest of the field was far strung-out behind them.
Heywoods Beach, Two Thirty Five, and Brown Storm completed the order of finish.
Country Grammer’s win was his second at the graded stakes level following last July’s Peter Pan Stakes (G3) at Saratoga and improved upon his last-out loss to Royal Ship in the Californian Stakes (G2). The 4-year-old Tonalist colt improved his overall record to 8-3-1-1 with $377,320 earned.
Country Grammer returned $5.60 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Royal Ship brought back $4.20 to place and $2.80 to show. Express Train paid $2.40 to show.
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