Victor Espinoza rides Hard Aces to Gold Cup win over Hoppertunity

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 1 1/4 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 1 1/4 lengths back in third and paid $2.40 to show.

In the $300,000 Triple Bend Stakes, 5-year-old gelding Masochistic got his first Grade I victory, winning by 3 1/2 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.


Include Betty swept by the field to win the $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.

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