Red-hot “Summer” appears best in Gold Cup

The illustrious Grade I, $500,000 Gold Cup takes place at Santa Anita Park this Saturday, and it drew a solid field of eight. Several jockeys in here will be vying for points in FanXT’s Daily Fantasy Jockey game, so be sure to get involved!

The mile-and-a-quarter Gold Cup has a very familiar feel to it, as #6 HOPPERTUNITY was installed as the 3-1 favorite. As usual, HOPPERTUNITY has speed figures that rank toward the top of the bunch, but he’s frequently come up short in spots like this. Even when he won the Grade II San Antonio two starts ago, it was by a desperate nose. While he’s a must-use in the exotics under Mike Smith, he’s tough to trust on top.

#2 SECOND SUMMER is a horse on the rise having won his last three races, including the Grade II Californian Stakes over this course. He beat a pair of these that day; #3 HARD ACES (6-1) and #4 LIEUTENANT COLONEL (8-1). His speed figures are right where they need to be, and he once again has Mario Gutierrez aboard. Finally, LIEUTENANT COLONEL and #7 MELATONIN (7-2) figure to set an honest pace up front, from which SECOND SUMMER will benefit. He’s the pick.

HARD ACES is the defending champion of this race, and gets a big rider change to Santiago Gonzalez. He is pace-dependent and tends to have too much to do late, but he shouldn’t have to worry about getting a nice set-up today. He’s an exotics player.

Horses I want to stay away from in this race are #1 BAL A BALI (9-2) and #8 IMPERATIVE (6-1).

BAL A BALI hasn’t really impressed me in his turf starts, as he’s frequently comes up short as a favorite, and his speed figures aren’t as good as the best horses’ figures in this field. He could take money on name recognition, especially with Flavien Prat aboard, but I don’t like him at all in this spot.

IMPERATIVE lures Rafael Bejarano but he seems to be trending downward with back-to-back fourths after three straight runner-ups in Southern Cal stakes races. The distance may be a bit too far for him as well.

The play: $5 exacta 2/3,6 ($10)

DFJ angle: I don’t like Rafael Bejarano’s mount in this race, but he has a much better chance in the Grade I Triple Bend earlier in the card aboard Lord Nelson. With several other live mounts throughout the day, Bejarano ($10,000) appears the best investment in the west this Saturday.

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