VICTOR ESPINOZA, HARD ACES, WINNER: “I think by the half mile pole I was committed. I already lost ground at the start from being bumped a little by Batti Man; he took me out of the race a little. 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.
“He’s improving. Every race, he’s getting better and better. When he was back east he wasn’t quite there but in his last race he ran good and today he ran great.”
GARY STEVENS, CATCH A FLIGHT, THIRD: “He ran a super race, he’s as honest as any horse can get. I’m disappointed we didn’t win but he runs his race every time and he tries hard, it’s all you can ask. No real excuses, he had a good trip . . . the jock might have moved a little early but other than that . . . ”
JOHN SADLER, HARD ACES, WINNER: “We got a good trip. We were hoping the pace would be there; we saw 45 and change, it looked like there was a lot of speed, but it’s got to come together. Victor did a beautiful job with him. He’s ridden him a few times and he’s not an easy horse to ride. He’s a very difficult horse to ride, so Victor’s gone forward with him for two or three races. He was a good fourth in the Big Cap . . . then he came back with a good third here and put it all together in the big one today.
“We thought the last race was key. He really stepped forward with a strong race right at the end of a mile and eighth and he got some more pace today . . . Pacific Classic (will be next, $1 million, Grade I, three-year-olds and up, 1 ¼ miles, Aug. 22). He’ll stay home and run right in our own back yard at Del Mar.”
Regarding the Breeders’ Cup Classic: “This is a Win and You’re In, so right now we have two horses qualified (Talco in the Mile), so we’re going to enjoy these races and kind of move forward.
“We won the (Grade I) Shoemaker (June 13), the Summertime Oaks last weekend (June 20)
and now the Gold Cup, so it’s an unbelievable run we’ve had. It’s been a lot of fun.”
PART OWNER KOSTA HRONIS: “We didn’t leave the gate very well and just got really far behind, a little too far behind, I thought. But we had good splits which he needs and it all worked out. John’s done a great job with him.”
NOTES: NOTES: Winning owners Kosta and Peter Hronis are from Delano, CA. Today’s on-track attendance was 21,528.