ARCADIA, Calif. – A three-time winner of the prestigious Hollywood Gold Cup, legendary California-bred Lava Man, who currently resides at trainer Doug O’Neill’s Barn 88, will lead the parade to the post for the race’s 81st running this Saturday at Santa Anita.
Run at Hollywood Park from 1938 through 2013, the iconic mile and one quarter fixture for 3-year-olds and up was shifted to Santa Anita in 2014 and renamed the Gold Cup at Santa Anita. Recently restored to its original title, the Grade I, $300,000 Hollywood Gold Cup will be run as the 10th race on an 11-race program on Saturday, with approximate post time listed at 5:12 p.m. PT.
Lava Man, a dark bay gelding who was foaled on March 20, 2001, is by Slew City Slew and is out of the Nostalgia’s Star mare Li’L Ms. Leonard.
A winner of three consecutive Gold Cups from 2005-07, Lava Man became the first three-time winner of Hollywood Park’s signature race for the handicap division since Hall of Famer Native Diver did it for trainer Buster Millerick in 1965-67.
The undisputed greatest claim in Thoroughbred history, Lava Man was haltered out of his 13th start for $50,000 on Aug. 13, 2004 at Del Mar. From there, Lava Man would amass more than $5.1 million in earnings for owners STD Racing and Jason Wood while winning 14 races under O’Neill’s skillful direction.
His storybook journey would include wins in the 2006 and 07 Santa Anita Handicaps as well as a stirring victory in the 2006 Pacific Classic at Del Mar. The all-time leading California-bred with seven Grade I wins, Lava Man amassed total earnings of $5,268,706 from an overall race record of 47-17-8-5.
Inducted into racing’s Hall of Fame in 2015, he became a stable pony at age nine for O’Neill in May, 2010 and accompanied O’Neill’s I’ll Have Another to the starting gate prior to victories in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2012.
“He’s family to me and to everyone connected with him,” said O’Neill, upon Lava Man’s HOF enshrinement. “You are lucky if you get a horse like this once in a lifetime.”
Here’s hoping some memories of past glory are rekindled when the amazing Lava Man is once again center stage on Saturday at The Great Race Place.
Santa Anita Press Release
Photo: Lava Man with Corey Nakatani wins his third Hollywood Gold Cup June 30, 2007 at Hollywood Park. Credit: Benoit Photos