Hard Aces prevails in Gold Cup
Hard Aces charged up the rail to win the $500,000 Gold Cup by a nose over Hoppertunity on Saturday at Santa Anita under jockey Victor Espinoza.
Hard Aces ran 11⁄4 miles in 2:02.46 and paid $17.80, $8 and $4.20 at 7-1 odds in earning his first graded stakes victory.
Earlier in the day, Espinoza appeared in the winner’s circle with Triple Crown champion American Pharoah and then denied Bob Baffert, who trains Hoppertunity and American Pharoah, the day’s biggest prize at the Arcadia racetrack. Hoppertunity returned $5.60 and $3.40 as the 5-2 second choice. Argentina-bred Catch a Flight was another 11⁄4 lengths back in third and paid $2.40 to show. Trainer John Sadler said Hard Aces would be pointed toward the $1-million Pacific Classic on Aug. 22 at Del Mar, a race that is trying to attract American Pharoah.
In the $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes, 5-year-old gelding Masochistic got his first Grade I victory, winning by 31⁄2 lengths as the even-money favorite. Ridden by Tyler Baze, Masochistic ran seven furlongs in 1:20.25 and paid $4.20, $3.20 and $2.80. In the $200,000 Royal Heroine Stakes, Fanticola won by a neck to claim her first graded stakes victory.