The 1991 Hollywood Gold Cup

Going into the early summer of 1991, Farma Way was enjoying a terrific 4-year-old campaign. First, the son of Marfa and Fine Tribute took four graded stakes at Santa Anita's winter/spring meet, highlighted by the Grade II San Antonio Handicap and Grade I Santa Anita Handicap. A little later on, he was the victor of the Grade I Pimlico Special in Maryland.

The only blemishes had come at Oaklawn Park, where he finished seventh in the Grade I Oaklawn Handicap, and Belmont Park, where he took third in the Grade II Nassau County Handicap. Overall, Farma Way had gone five of seven in 1991 as summer came around.

Coming off the third place result in the Nassau County Handicap, Farma Way returned to Hollywood Park, where he broke his maiden and finished second in the Hollywood Futurity in 1989. He had not won at the Track of the Lakes and Flowers since that first victory, but Farma was presented with a chance to win the track's biggest race.

Entered in the 1991 Hollywood Gold Cup, Farma Way was in line to achieve the rare feat of winning that and the Big 'Cap in the same season. Not too many horses were in the record book for that distinction, and achieving it was going to make Farma Way's season already bigger than it had been.

The D. Wayne Lukas trainee met eight rivals in the Gold Cup. Sent off at 7-5, Farma Way was seen as the probable winner of the event. Going by the tote board, his primary competition came in the form of Summer Squall, the 1990 Preakness Stakes champion who was second to Farma Way in the Pimlico Special.

When the 1 1/4 mile event began, young rider David Flores sent long shot Marquetry to the front. Originally racing over in Europe, this offspring of 1982 Belmont Stakes champion Conquistador Cielo showed up on the Southern California circuit in the fall of 1990. He had taken some allowance races at Santa Anita, and had more recently finished third in the Gold Cup's traditional prep, the Grade I Californian Stakes. Going to the front was just fine with Marquetry; those who watched him in action before were aware of how he could go to the early lead. Farma Way settled in second place, also not surprising given that the Big 'Cap champ could race to the front or closely follow the leader.

Marquetry set a moderate pace going around the first turn. Guided towards the inside by Flores in an effort to save ground for the ten furlong excursion, the Bobby Frankel trainee set an opening split of 23.30 He had an advantage of about a couple of lengths on Farma Way, who headed the remainder of the group as they traveled in a pack, no more than a few lengths separating them.

It became more of a race down the backstretch. The half-mile went by in 46.40, and Farma Way was coming after Marquetry. On his outside came Anshan, a middle-priced horse piloted by Gary Stevens. The field was now more strung out, and Farma Way began making a move on Marquetry. Pulling away from Anshan, Farma Way and Chris McCarron had the leader squarely in focus going into the far turn. The Hollywood Gold Cup's first six furlongs went by in 1:10.30. Marquetry continued to lead, but Farma Way was ready to race. He got to within a half-length near the top of the stretch, no one else making a bid for the win. Only Marquetry stood between him and the Hollywood Gold Cup.

Going down the stretch, the chestnut Marquetry continued towards the inside part of the main track. The dark bay or brown Farma Way was on his outside, attempting to make up more ground. Both Flores and McCarron were mere seconds from capturing their first Hollywood Gold Cup. Nothing was confirmed at this point. Either Farma Way or Marquetry could win, and it looked like whoever did might do so by a slim margin.

Marquetry took care of the first mile in 1:34.30. He ran with a relaxed but determined demeanor in the stretch, as did Farma Way. Neither horse was buckling under the pressure or the cheering from the fans. They were all business and were going to try their best to win one of racing's biggest prizes. Win or lose, they were not going to quit until the race was over.

With a sixteenth of a mile left, McCarron asked Farma Way for more. The favorite moved up in the final seconds, his white blinkers prominent. Flores urged Farma Way. Marquetry rapidly closed on his rival, trying to make the winning surge in time. Everyone watched in anticipation. Who would win the Hollywood Gold Cup?

Both horses ran a winning race, but only one of them got the win. In front of over 30,000 fans, Marquetry produced the upset in the fourth race, taking the Hollywood Gold Cup at 27-1 in a time of 1:59.50. He won by a head over Farma Way, while Itsallgreektome completed the trifecta. Summer Squall, the reigning Preakness winner, was well back in seventh.

History was indeed made at Hollywood Park on June 29, 1991. Instead of seeing Farma Way complete the Big 'Cap/Hollywood Gold Cup double, everyone saw Farma Way break a longstanding record. With a payout of $56.80 for a two dollar ticket, Farma Way gained the distinction of being the biggest long shot to win the Hollywood Gold Cup. Before then, Cadiz, the 1963 victor, had the record with a win mutuel of $50.20.

Going into the 2020 renewal, no winner of the race has put together a larger price than Marquetry.

There was a rematch between the top two finishers later in the year. Farma Way and Marquetry met again in the Grade I Philip H. Iselin Handicap at Monmouth Park in September. Farma Way and Marquetry were the top two choices in the race, but neither of them won. As far as their head-to-head matchup was concerned, Farma Way avenged his Gold Cup defeat, finishing second to Black Tie Affair by a neck. Marquetry was in early contention, but came in fifth.

A third match never took place. Farma Way was retired after his runner up finish in the 1991 Grade I Woodward Stakes. Marquetry continued to race through the 1993 season, collecting more graded stakes like the Grade I Eddie Read Handicap at Del Mar in 1992 and Santa Anita's Grade II San Antonio Handicap the following year. Those were accompanied by multiple graded stakes placings as well.

Both Farma Way and Marquetry compiled fine careers on the track, winning several races and earning close to $3 million each. They also gave the racing world a memorable battle in the 1991 Hollywood Gold Cup, ensuring their place in history for their respective performances and delivering one of the event's greatest renewals.

Entry added February 13, 2020 by AF.