06/03/2012 1:55PM

Hollywood: Kettle Corn to take another shot at Game On Dude in Gold Cup

Benoit & Associates
Kettle Corn (above) will have to make up more than seven lengths if he is to defeat Game On Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Kettle Corn could only finish second by 7 1/4 lengths to Game On Dude in Saturday’s Grade 2 Californian Stakes, but trainer John Sadler wants a rematch in the $500,000 Hollywood Gold Cup on July 7.

Before anyone rushes to grab a cold towel for Sadler’s forehead, it should be noted that the Gold Cup is a handicap run over 1 1/4 miles, conditions that should suit Kettle Corn.

Saturday’s $150,000 Californian Stakes was an allowance stakes, with weights determined by what the horses had accomplished in recent starts. Game On Dude carried 120 pounds, two more than Kettle Corn.

Sadler will be hoping for a much greater spread in the Gold Cup.

“I need a handicap,” Sadler said.

Game On Dude led throughout the Californian, which was run over 1 1/8 miles, setting a slow pace of 24.01 and 48.23 seconds. He led by a length on the backstretch and widened his advantage on the turn and early stretch under jockey Chantal Sutherland.

Kettle Corn, ridden by Joel Rosario, was last in the field of four on the backstretch, moved into second in early stretch, but was no threat to the winner.

“We didn’t get any kind of setup that we were looking for,” Sadler said. “We’ll need pace in front of him. He ran against the best horse in the country. We’ll look at the next one.”

The Gold Cup is unlikely to have a large field. Prayer for Relief and Morning Line, third and fourth in the Californian, are possible starters. Game On Dude and Prayer for Relief are trained by Bob Baffert.

Morning Line won the Grade 3 MervynLeRoy Handicap on May 5 in his California debut, but faded through the stretch of the Californian to finish 16 lengths behind the winner. The loss was a puzzler to trainer John Shirreffs, who said he will assess the horse’s condition through June before finalizing plans for the Gold Cup.

“I’ll be patient before I make that decision,” Shirreffs said.

The Gold Cup will not include Setsuko, who was second in the Santa Anita Handicap in March.

Trainer Richard Mandella said that Setsuko was sidelined last month with an injury.

“We’ve turned him out,” Mandella said. “He had a small tear in a suspensory ligament and he’s out. It will take a long time to heal.”

Richard’s Kid, the winner of the Pacific Classic in 2009 and 2010, could start in the Gold Cup. He was nominated for Friday’s $70,000 Prove It Stakes over 1 3/8 miles, which would be his first start in the United States since the fall of 2010.

Owned by Zabeel Racing International and trained by Baffert, Richard’s Kid was fourth in the Godolphin Mile in Dubai in March when trained by Satish Seemar.

A 7-year-old, Richard’s Kid was winless in five starts in Dubai in 2011 and earlier this year. When trained by Baffert in 2010, he was California’s leading older male.

Richard’s Kid was third in the 2010 Hollywood Gold Cup behind Awesome Gem.

Awesome Gem, now a 9-year-old, finished second in the Grade 3 Berkeley Handicap at Golden Gate Fields on May 28, but was promoted to first when race winner Positive Response was disqualified from first to fourth for causing interference in the stretch.

Sunday, trainer Craig Dollase said that no plans have been finalized for Awesome Gem’s next start. Regarding the Gold Cup, he said, “We’ll see.”