Updated on 09/16/2011 7:48AM

Sky Jack prevails in Gold Cup

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Benoit & Associates
Sky Jack (right) holds off Momentum by a nose to capture Sunday's Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. - From longshots to logical contenders, Sky Jack fought off all challengers to win Sunday's $750,000 at Hollywood Park.

Through an exciting stretch duel, Sky Jack prevailed by a nose over Momentum, after fighting off an early threat from 30-1 Macaneo. Momentum finished three lengths in front of Milwaukee Brew, the 7-5 favorite who won the Santa Anita Handicap earlier this year.

The victory completed a remarkable comeback for the 6-year-old Sky Jack. A year ago, Sky Jack was recovering from knee surgery but had yet to undergo two colic surgeries that threatened his life.

The Gold Cup was the richest career win for Sky Jack, his owners, Rene and

Margie Lambert, and trainer Doug O'Neill. Sky Jack has won 8 of 14 starts and $929,269.

For jockey Laffit Pincay, Sky Jack's victory marked his ninth win in the Gold Cup, surpassing Bill Shoemaker as the all-time leader.

"He won on courage," Pincay said.

The frontrunning Sky Jack was pressured throughout. He set fractions of 23.41 and 46.94, leading over Macaneo, who was second for the first half-mile.

Racing on the rail, Sky Jack was challenged by Momentum at the end of the backstretch. The two entered the stretch together and were inseperable through the final quarter-mile. Momentum, ridden by Garrett Gomez, may have put his nose in front, but could never pull clear. Sky Jack led through the final sixteenth and finished 1 1-4 miles in 2:01.73.

"When I watched it, I thought he won and when I saw the replay, I thought he lost," O'Neill said. "It was definitely scary. I thought we were in trouble turning for home."

Milwaukee Brew was closest at the finish, leaving jockey Kent Desormeaux to question his ride. "I left him with too much to do," he said.

Dollar Bill finished a non-threatening fourth, and was followed by Dig For It and Macaneo. Out of Mind was scratched with a bruised foot.

The photo finish was a heartbreaker for Craig Dollase, who trains Momentum.

Last year, the Dollase-trained Futural finished first in the Gold Cup, but was disqualified for causing interference. This time, Dollase could only be philosophical.

"That's Sky Jack - when he gets hooked, he's a tough horse," Dollase said.

"The plan was to pounce on Sky Jack. It could have gone either way. What a stretch run that was."