With the declaration of pre-race favorite Hoppertunity because of a fever, 2015 Gold Cup at Santa Anita winner Hard Aces has inherited the favorite’s role in Sunday’s Grade III $ 100,000 Cougar II Handicap at a mile one-half over Del Mar’s main track.
Hard Aces, the new highweight at 122 pounds, will have Santiago Gonzalez in the saddle versus four rivals – Infobedad, 114, Joe Talamo; Energia Fribby, 114, Drayden Van Dyke; Seve’s Road, 117, Rafael Bejarano, and Quick Casablanca, 120, Tyler Baze.
Hard Aces, a son of Hard Spun trained by John Sadler, scored the most important victory of his career when he won the Gold Cup at Santa Anita, nosing out Hoppertunity. However, the six-year-old stretch-runner is winless in his last nine although he has performed creditably in nothing but stakes races. Most recently, he was third to Melatonin in the 2016 renewal of the Gold Cup at Santa Anita.
`Heading the opposition is the distance-loving Chilean-bred Quick Casablanca. Trained by Hall of Famer Ron McAnally, Quick Casablanca won the marathon San Juan Capistrano on the grass in April at Santa Anita. He was a winner on the dirt in Chile prior to his importation to America.
Co-featured on Sunday’s ten-race program is the $ 150,000 California Dreamin Stakes for California-bred older horses. Entered are Magic Mark, Ambitious Brew, Boozer, Somethings Unusual, Alert Bay, Patriots Rule, Poshsky, Soi Phet and Avanti Bello. The race is carded at a mile and one-sixteenth on the grass.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2016 Paulick Report.