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Hard Aces Wins Gold Cup by a Nose

Added on: June 29, 2015

Hard Aces, ridden by Victor Espinoza, charged up the rail on Saturday 27th June, 2015, at Santa Anita to win the $500,000 Gold Cup by just a nose, pipping Hoppertunity to the post in a finish that was almost too close to call. The victory was witnessed by a crowd of 21,528 horse racing fans in Arcadia, California.

Hard Aces completed the 1 ¼ miles fast track race in a time of 2:02.46 and paid $17.80, $8 and $4.20 at 7-1 odds and this was also his first graded stakes victory. Speaking about the race was Triple Crown Winner, Espinoza. He said, “I lost a little ground at the start from being bumped by Batti Man; he took me out of the race a little.”

He then went on to say, “I decided not to encourage him early and save ground. I thought my best shot was to save ground and get through on the inside, and it worked out well.” We obtained these comments from the official ESPN website. The victory earned Hard Aces a cool $300,000, bringing the horses’ total earnings to an incredible $592,145. Hard Aces has now recorded a total of six wins in 23 starts.

Trainer John Sadler also commented on the victory on Saturday, saying “Victor did a beautiful job with him. He's ridden him a few times, and he's not an easy horse to ride.” Hard Aces is the 5-year-old son of Hard Spun whose major wins included the Port Penn Stakes in 2006 and the Pennsylvania Nursery Stakes, also in 2006.

Hard Spun had a great year the following year, winning the Lecomte Stakes, the Lane's End Stakes, the King's Bishop Stakes and the Kentucky Cup Classic Stakes. He also placed in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (coming 2nd), the Preakness Stakes (3rd) and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (2nd).

Hard Ace’s other Grade I attempt was a fourth place finish in the Santa Anita Handicap, where he ended up finishing just behind Gold Cup runners Monreno and Catch a Flight. Sadler hinted that Hard Aces will be focussing towards the upcoming $1 million Pacific Classic on Saturday 22nd August, 2015, at Del Mar, an event which is also hoping to catch the attention of American Pharoah. This latest victory for Hard Aces also gives him a spot in the Breeder’s Cup Classic Grade I as a part of the ‘Win & You’re In’ qualifying races.