It’s been a wild spring season for Melatonin, a breakout contender at 5 years-old who won the Santa Anita Handicap as a shocking 16/1 longshot. That wasn’t a fluke either. He followed up that win with a second place finish at the Oaklawn Handicap, losing to Effinex. The son of Kodiak Kowboy takes his talents next to the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, the sight of his greatest victory.
Winning the Gold Cup could prove to be the biggest coup for Melatonin as it’s a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race. The winner gets an automatic entry in to the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at this fall’s world championships. It would be a massive victory for the David Hofmans trainee, who has literally come out of nowhere this season.
“I wasn’t so much surprised that he won the Santa Anita Handicap but that he handled the distance, because I thought the distances he had been running might be somewhat beyond him,” said Hofmans. “But he’s shown now that he can run long, and even Talamo thinks the mile and a quarter is better for him than a mile and an eighth. He said he’s a true stayer, and that surprises me.” Joe Talamo is the jockey for Melatonin.
The eight-horse field will also Hoppertunity, who was last seen placing third at the Dubai World Cup behind California Chrome. Trained by Bob Baffert, Hoppertunity’s success is well documented and celebrated. He has also won the San Antonio Handicap and placed third at the San Pasqual Stakes in this year alone. Overall he is 5-6-4 in 19 attempts and is as reliable as older horses come in the longer races.
Melatonin will also have to fend off an experience field of seven horses in total at this weekend’s Gold Cup if he hopes to punch a ticket to the Classic. Imperative is coming off a 4th place finish at the Charles Town Classic, while Win That Space bursts on the scene after an allowance victory at this weekend’s host track. Ridden by Gary Steven, Win That Space has plenty to prove in stakes races. He has finished no higher than 5th at any graded competition.
Second Summer and Hard Aces also enter as highly regarded entrants and threats to Melatonin after placing 1st and 2nd at the Californian Stakes.
The Gold Cup will run this Saturday, June 25th at at Santa Anita. It is a 1 1/4 mile dirt race with a sizeable $500,000 purse. It will be hard to decipher a real favorite in this race, but it’s hard to bet against Melatonin considering how strong he’s come on in recent months.