Now perfect in four starts over the Santa Anta main track, Melatonin became a top contender for the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) this fall with his victory in Saturday’s $500,000 Gold Cup at Santa Anita (G1).
Sent off as the 9-5 betting favorite in a field of eight, the gelding pressed the early pace set by Lieutenant Colonel, put his head in front with a quarter mile to go and finished gamely, edging clear late, stopping the timer for the 1 ¼ miles in 1:59.79.
“As you saw, he laid second, comfortably,” Talamo said after the race. “What impressed me the most about him today was when Win the Space came to him at the eighth pole, he just battled back. He gives you everything he’s got.”
“He’s a very smart horse. You can see that Joe could do whatever he wanted with him. They’re perfect together,” added winning trainer David Hofmans.
Gold Cup at Santa Anita Replay
Hofmans took over the training duties from Jeff Bonde last summer where the gelding beat first level optional claimers in his first start against winners and first outing off an 18-month layoff.
He sprinted in his first four starts for Hofmans including a third in the Eddie D. (G3) on turf at 6 ½ furlongs, but this guy has blossomed going two turns on the main track.
He beat second level optional claimers earning a 97 Beyer in his first route in February, and Hofmans entered him in the Santa Anita Handicap (G1) where he was dismissed at 16-1. He went gate to wire to score the upset and earned a career top Beyer of 107.
He then shipped to Oaklawn Park where he ran a good second to Effinex in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2), beaten a length. Effienex was last year’s runner up in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to American Pharoah.
Now with his victory in the Gold Cup he is perfect in four starts over the Santa Anita main track, the site of this year’s Breeders’ Cup.
We could find out exactly how good this gelding is this summer before the Classic. Also training in Southern California is the division leader California Chrome, winner of the Dubai World Cup (G1) in his last outing in March.
The colt is likely to run in the San Diego Handicap (G2) on July 23 at Del Mar. It is possible Melatonin and California Chrome could meet in the $1 million Pacific Classic (G1) at Del Mar in August.
He figures to be sitting fourth or fifth in the betting behind California Chrome, Beholder (9-2), Nyquist (6-1) and Frosted (6-1).
They have Songbird listed at 8-1 but the undefeated filly seems more likely to go in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Exaggerator is currently listed at odds of 12-1 at US Racing.
Road to the Breeders’ Cup Package
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Michael’s two day Breeders’ Cup Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations for every race on the two-day championship event from Santa Anita on Nov. 4-5.