09/23/2005 11:00PM

Super Frolic by a head in Gold Cup

Four-Footed Fotos
Super Frolic (3), under Victor Espinoza, holds off Lord of the Game over an extremely sloppy track to win the Hawthorne Gold Cup by a head.

STICKNEY, Ill. - Hard rain turned the Hawthorne racetrack into a sea of mud, the sloppy racing surface turned the into a battle of front-runners, and Super Frolic turned in the race of his life, bouncing back from a fifth-place finish in the Pacific Classic to win the $750,000 Gold Cup by a head over a stubborn Lord of the Game.

Desert Boom, who set the pace while feeling pressure from Lord of the Game and Super Frolic, held on for third, with heavily favored Perfect Drift floundering home fourth.

Ro Parra, who races under the Millennium Farms banner, purchased Super Frolic in early August on the advice of the speed-figure guru Jerry Brown. Turned over to trainer Vladimir Cerin 18 days before the Pacific Classic, Super Frolic contested a hot pace while racing wide and checked in fifth in that start.

"We secretly still had hopes for the Breeders' Cup," Cerin said. "We felt we had a much better horse than we saw in the Pacific Classic."

Super Frolic ($10.60) went about proving Cerin right in the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup. The $450,000 winner's share of the purse more than doubled Super Frolic's lifetime earnings, and while declining to reveal how much Parra had paid for the horse, Cerin said Super Frolic had "more than paid for himself" by winning the Gold Cup.

Desert Boom broke on top, but Lord of the Game challenged him into the first turn after a long run down the Hawthorne homestretch. The opening quarter went in 23.59 seconds, the half in a moderate 48.05, while jockey Victor Espinoza took a hold of Super Frolic and placed him in third, well clear of the rest of the pack.

And then, for quite some time, not much happened. The surface seemed to fix the horses in place. Super Frolic tipped three wide in the stretch for his run, and he caught Desert Boom, then edged clear of Lord of the Game. But Lord of the Game fought back and was slowly gaining on the rail again at the finish, coming up just short after 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.66.

"It just wasn't enough time, I guess," said Lord of the Game's rider, Eddie Razo.

Perfect Drift raced in sixth place early and moved up to fourth on the far turn, but got no closer.

"When I went to riding him, I don't want to blame the track, but he got slipping and sliding on me," said jockey Mark Guidry.