Defunded Takes Them Coast To Coast in Gold Cup

Defunded | Benoit


Caught late and forced to settle for second when racing for Sean McCarthy in last year's GI Hollywood Gold Cup, Mike Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman's Defunded (Dialed In) wrested command of the 2023 iteration soon after the start and led past every pole to give trainer Bob Baffert a ninth victory in the event, breaking a tie with the legendary Charlie Whittingham for the most wins in the history of the race.

Favored at 3-5, the chestnut broke well and took his five rivals along at a comfortable gallop, covering the opening four furlongs in :47.59 while being kept company by longshot Piroli (Battle of Midway). Kiss Today Goodbye (Cairo Prince) ranged up three wide turning up the backstretch and there would be no further change in the order in what became very much a merry-go-round race through the six furlongs in 1:11.83. Niggled along by Juan Hernandez nearing the stretch while given no breather by a very stubborn Piroli, Defunded led narrowly into the stretch, turned away the race-long challenge of Piroli at the furlong grounds and maintained a safe margin to the wire. The winner's stablemate and 2021 Gold Cup hero Country Grammer (Tonalist) bobbled a bit at the break from the inside stall, settled and chased from fourth throughout and never offered any sort of winning bid.

“I would have like to seen Country Grammer second and run 1-2, but Defunded is a tough horse,” said Baffert, whose won his first Gold Cup with Pegram's GI Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet (Quiet American) nearly a quarter-century ago. “This horse today he got the lead and he wasn't going to let anybody pass him. He is just improving and getting better. I was happy to see him get a mile and a quarter.”

The 10 furlongs of the Gold Cup had proved a task too tall for Defunded previously, as he was second after setting a much sharper pace in last year's renewal and met a similar fate in the GI Santa Anita H. this past March, where he couldn't quite last and settled for third. Having made the 2022 GI Awesome Again S. his first graded win last October, he added a facile score in Del Mar's GIII Native Diver S. and was second to Art Collector (Bernardini) in the GI Pegasus World Cup in January. Defunded was a latest winner as the 1-5 mortal of the Apr. 22 GII Calfornian S.

Pedigree Notes:

Defunded's dam, a $31,000 Keeneland September yearling, punched well above her weight in winning five times while placing in a similar number of black-type races and bankrolling nearly $195,000.

Having produced four foals, Wind Caper was not mated in 2016 and fetched $37,000 from Athens Woods at that year's Keeneland November Sale. The stakes-winning second dam Wind Tunnel was a half-sister to Grade III winner Reunited (Dixie Union), the dam of GI Runhappy Travers S. and GI Jockey Club Gold Cup winner and GI Kentucky Derby runner-up Code of Honor (Noble Mission {GB}).

Wind Caper is also the dam of the 3-year-old filly Capital Lights (Lookin At Lucky) and a 2-year-old full-sister to Defunded. That filly, named Ringy Dingy, was a $200,000 purchase by Oracle Bloodstock out of last year's Fasig-Tipton October Sale and breezed a half-mile over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga in :50.12 (12/30) May 26.

Monday, Santa Anita
HOLLYWOOD GOLD CUP S.-GI, $400,500, Santa Anita, 5-29, 3yo/up, 1 1/4m, 2:02.85, ft.
1–DEFUNDED, 124, g, 5, by Dialed In
                1st Dam: Wind Caper (MSP, $194,286), by Touch Gold
                2nd Dam: Wind Tunnel, by Summer Squall
                3rd Dam: Tivli, by Mt. Livermore
($210,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-Michael E. Pegram, Karl Watson
and Paul Weitman; B-Athens Woods LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert;
J-Juan J. Hernandez. $240,000. Lifetime Record: 17-7-4-2,
$1,588,100. *1/2 to Lookin At Roses (Lookin At Lucky), SP,
$296,510. Werk Nick Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Piroli, 122, g, 4, Battle of Midway–Phonybooksnrecords, by
BLACK TYPE. O/B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY); T-Michael W.
McCarthy. $80,000.
3–Kiss Today Goodbye, 122, h, 6, Cairo Prince–Savvy Hester, by
Heatseeker (Ire). 1ST G1 BLACK TYPE. ($150,000 Ylg '18
KEEJAN). O-Sondereker Racing LLC; B-Debmar Stables (KY);
T-J. Eric Kruljac. $48,000.
Margins: 1, 3 1/4, HF. Odds: 0.60, 28.30, 37.30.
Also Ran: Country Grammer, Senor Buscador, Yes This Time.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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