ARCADIA, CA – WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and SF Racing’s Improbable proved to be much the best on Saturday, dominating the stretch run to win the $300,000 Hollywood Gold Cup Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from post 5 under Drayden Van Dyke as the 6/5 favorite, Improbable sat just behind early leader Brown Storm, who posted opening fractions of :23.24, :47.57, and 1:11.84. Moving up alongside Brown Storm to apply pressure heading into the far turn, Improbable sidled past and turned for home clear on the front end.
Opening up under urging through mid-stretch, the Bob Baffert trainee was hand-ridden late before crossing 3 1/4 lengths clear in a final time of 2:01.69 for the 1 1/4-mile fast dirt route.
“It was how he has been working in the mornings,” Van Dyke said. “I worked him several times going 7 furlongs and these gallop-outs that he would give me were just unbelievable. He was doing unbelievable for this race. He was sitting on a big one and he ran a big one.”
Higher Power stalked early and tried following Improbable through the turn but proved no match, finishing second by 4 1/2 lengths over Tenfold. Brown Storm, Midcourt, and Parsimony completed the order of finish.
Improbable’s win was his first of the year and his first since taking the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar last August. The 4-year-old City Zip colt improved his record to 12-5-3-0 with $1,129,520 earned.
“Drayden had him in the perfect spot and he had plenty left for the run home,” Baffert said. I’m happy for the team. Everyone thought this horse was a turf horse and I thought he needed the dirt. This horse is only going to get better.”
Improbable returned $4.60 to win, $3 to place, and $2.40 to show. Higher Power brought back $4 to place and $3 to show, while Tenfold paid $4 to show.