ARCADIA, Calif. (April 2, 2017)–Put into an all-out drive five sixteenths of a mile from home, 7-year-old Hard Aces prevailed in a grinding finish to take Sunday’s marathon Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup under Santiago Gonzalez. Trained by John Sadler and owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, he got a mile and one half in 2:31.99.
“We’re very happy,” said Sadler. “He won one of those mile and one half races at Del Mar last summer (Grade III Cougar II Handicap on Aug. 24), so we know he can get the distance. We didn’t really get the trip we wanted in the Big ‘Cap last month but he’s just been a wonderful horse for us. He’s had a lot of seconds and thirds…He’s run against some very good horses.”
Beaten by 17 lengths in the Grade I Santa Anita Handicap on March 11, Hard Aces, a 7-year-old full horse by Hard Spun, was off at 4-1 in a field of six older horses and paid $10.00, $3.80 and $2.80.
The Tokyo City represents his eighth win from 40 starts and with the winner’s share of $60,000, he increased his earnings to $1,147,990.
Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, 3-2 favorite Big John B was last early, rallied between horses through the lane, but came up second best, finishing a nose in front of Hi Happy while paying $3.40 and $2.60.
“He tried really hard,” said Bejarano. “They went so slow early, I couldn’t get him to relax…They were going so slow, I moved a little early but we had every opportunity to win. We were just second best today.”
Ridden by Tiago Pereira, Argentine-bred Hi Happy made the early lead and forced the issue throughout to just miss second money. Off at 2-1, he paid $2.60 to show.
Fractions on the race were 25.93, 50.34, 1:16.11, 1:41.47 and 2:06.44.
Racing resumes on Thursday at Santa Anita, with first post time at 1:00 p.m. Admission gates open at 11:00 a.m.