Hronis Racing’s Hard Aces ground out a seventh career victory in Sunday’s Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar, pushing his career earnings just over the million-dollar mark. The 6-year-old son of Hard Spun crossed the wire about a half-length in front, covering 12 furlongs over the fast main track in 2:30.55 under Santiago Gonzalez for John Sadler.
Gonzalez allowed Hard Aces to sprint out to a significant early lead of nearly five lengths before entering the homestretch for the first time, where the jockey nearly stood up to slow him down. The field came right back to Hard Aces, with Quick Casablanca tracking him through fractions of :25.62, :51.15, and 1:16.76. Quick Casablanca maintained steady pressure on Hard Aces all the way down the backstretch, with Energia Fribby tracking from third and Seve’s Road bringing up the rear of the field.
Entering the far turn for the final time, riders on both Hard Aces and Quick Casablanca began riding in an all-out sprint for the wire. Quick Casablanca managed to get his head in front for several strides, but Hard Aces battled back. Hard Aces was game, and Gonzalez rode him out strongly through the wire to cross it a half-length in front of Quick Casablanca. Seve’s Road finished third, and Energia Fribby was fourth.
Bred in Kentucky by Dreamchaser Thorobreds, Hard Aces has been chasing the top-level handicap horses for the last several years. His overall record stands at 7-5-8 from 33 career starts, and the Cougar II victory just boosted his earnings to over $ 1 million.
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