Going for the Gold: Eastside owner points his super colt to bigger things
By Jay Maebori, Eastside Journal, October 4, 2000
That Mula Gula is at it again.
The 4-year-old colt purchased for $6,000 by Mercer Island's Steve Gula will make another attempt to topple giants of the horse racing industry on Saturday.
Mula Gula will enter the $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap (Grade III) at Chicago's Hawthorne Race Course at 1 miles on the dirt. If he performs well there, the next step could be the biggest leap America has to offer.
"This is the most important race our horse will run up to this point,'' Gula said. "If we're so lucky as to pull this off, we'll go to the big one, the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.''
Much must happen before entering the showcase race on racing's biggest day in November. Gula said his horse would have to win the Hawthorne Gold Cup or "have an absolutely awesome second'' to justify putting up the $120,000 in entry fees and travel costs to make the Classic at Churchill Downs.
"Mula Gula is for real,'' Gula declared Sunday, a day before he left for Chicago to accompany his prized horse. "This should be his best race. (Trainer) Jerry Hollendorfer has him well conditioned, and he's working out better than ever. He's ready.''
A prepared Mula Gula was a game third, closing swiftly in the $2 million Arlington Million, his last race, at Arlington International Race Course. Despite being fanned the widest in the field, Mula Gula still was charging hard under Mark Guidry, who retains the mount Saturday.
That turf effort bolstered the connection's belief that Mula Gula was ready for another step.
Local race fans can watch and wager on Mula Gula and the rest of the Gold Cup field Saturday at Emerald Downs, which will carry multiple tracks, including the entire Hawthorne card via simulcast.
The lightly raced son of Lil E. Tee has just four starts this year but could surpass $1 million in earnings if he wins the Hawthorne Gold Cup. Then, the stakes get much higher. The Classic's winner's share is $2.7 million.
"I'm blown away. I'm totally blown away,'' Gula said of the possibilities.
Golden Missile, owned by racetrack mogul Frank Stronach, headlines the field and has scared off many of the 20 nominees for Saturday's Gold Cup. The winner of the Stephen Foster and the Pimlico Special is expected to be the overwhelming favorite.
If Mula Gula can pull off a huge upset, he will be headed for the elite company of Kentucky Derby-winner Fusaichi Pegasus, a former $4 million purchase who will retire after the Classic, and Lemon Drop Kid, currently the top-rated handicap horse in the country.
Should Mula Gula fare just below the most optimistic expectations, he could still head to the Breeders' Cup Turf, a 1½-mile race preceding the Classic. A subpar effort in the Gold Cup would eliminate consideration for the Breeders' Cup card, Gula said.
Several factors weigh in Mula Gula's favor, however. He is 5-5-3 from 18 career races. Guidry, one of the Chicago-area's top jockeys, won the Gold Cup twice with Yourmissinthepoint (1995) and Buck's Boy (1997). Stronach's Awesome Again won the Gold Cup in 1998 and went on to win the Classic a month later.
"Everyone is very excited,'' Gula said of his jazzed-up connections. "He's really taken us over the edge.''