INGLEWOOD, CALIF., JUNE 23 -- Who is the best horse in Sunday's $1 million Hollywood Gold Cup?
"There's no doubt in my mind that Sunday Silence will win this year's Gold Cup," said jockey Patrick Valenzuela, who will ride the 1989 horse of the year in the 1 1/4-mile race on Hollywood Park's main track.
Wayne Lukas, trainer of Criminal Type -- who apparently has a disposition to match his name -- doesn't agree. "He has just started to get mean again," Lukas said. "He was becoming too sociable. He is improving like he did earlier in the year."
In consecutive races Criminal Type, a 5-year-old son of Alydar, upset Ruhlmann in the $1 million Pimlico Special, then surprised Easy Goer and Housebuster in the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont.
But Sunday Silence, coupled with stablemate Ruhlmann in the betting, was made the 4-5 early favorite. Criminal Type was 2 to 1.
"I love being in this role," Lukas said. "We've spoiled a lot of parties, and we'll do it again Sunday. Criminal Type acts like he's not going to let himself lose."
The Gold Cup purse has doubled this year, and the winner's take will be $550,000.
The first-class field of older horses also includes Stylish Winner, Santangelo, Mi Selecto and Opening Verse.
Sunday Silence was assigned high weight of 126 pounds. He will spot his rivals 2 to 16 pounds. Ruhlmann will be ridden by Gary Stevens and carry 124 pounds; Criminal Type, ridden by Jose Santos, will carry 121.
Ruhlmann is expected to set the pace; he won the Santa Anita Handicap in March by leading the entire 1 1/4 miles.
Opening Verse will be ridden by Angel Cordero at 119, Mi Selecto by Jerry Bailey at 114, Stylish Winner by Corey Black at 113 and Santangelo by Julio Garcia at 110.
Sunday Silence prepped for the Gold Cup three weeks ago by winning the $303,400 Californian by three-quarters of a length over Stylish Winner.
"Many felt the horse didn't do enough in winning the Californian," Valenzuela said of the 4-year-old son of Halo. "I felt he was just super in coming back and winning at a mile and an eighth after being away. Sunday Silence did what he had to do to win the race, and that's all that was needed."
Valenzuela regained the mount on Sunday Silence when Chris McCarron broke both legs and a forearm in a spill hours before the Californian.