Horse Racing Betting: Hard Aces Tops Contenders for Gold Cup at Santa Anita Race Track

David Schwab

Thursday, May 25, 2017 2:29 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 25, 2017 2:29 PM UTC

The 2017 Belmont Stakes is still two weeks away as the final leg of this year's Triple Crown racing series, but horse bettors will have their fill of action this Saturday at Santa Anita Park with a number of major graded events on the card highlighted by the $500,000 Gold Cup.

The Gold Cup at Santa Anita is open to 3-year-old thoroughbreds and up, and while the final field for Saturday’s race is still taking shape, I have already come up with three probable entries that come together perfectly to form my top trifecta pick for this race.


2017 Gold Cup At Santa Anita Park

The Gold Cup is a Grade 1 stakes race and the total prize purse has been set at $500,000.  It will be contested on the dirt track at Santa Anita over a distance a 1 ¼ miles.

The horse at the top of my list for Saturday’s main event on the card at Santa Anita is trainer John Sadler’s Hard Aces. This 7-year-old veteran showed that he still has some gas in the tank with recent victory in the Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup at Santa Anita on April 2 over an extended distance of 1 ½ miles. It was his first win of the season after a couple of finishes out of the money at this same park in higher graded events against stiffer competition. However, given his experience and overall success at Santa Anita (he won this race in 2015), I have him as the class of this field for this race.

A pedigree of Hard Spun, this Kentucky-bred horse comes into this race ranked No. 86 by Horse Racing Nation with a rating of 7.82.

My second choice for this year’s Gold Cup would be Midnight Storm, who should go off as the morning-line favorite given his lofty 8.14 HRN rating and a rank of No. 36. This 6-year-old Kentucky-bred horse is trained by Philip D’Amato and he is coming off a solid third-place finish in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap on April 15 at Oaklawn Park over a distance of 1 1/8 miles. This was his third finish this season in the money, highlighted by a victory in the Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita on New Year’s Day.

This veteran son of Pioneerof The Nile has been on quite a run since this time last year with eight straight finishes in the money, including victories in five of those events.   

Breaking down the list of the other probable entries for this race, trainer Bob Baffert’s Collected has piqued my interest since he been out of action for quite some since finishing 10th in last year’s Preakness Stakes, but I am rounding out my trifecta pick with another D’Amato entry Big John B. This pedigree of Hard Spun finished second to his brother in the Tokyo City Cup his last time out after winning that very same event in 2016.

As an 8-year-old gelding bred in Florida, Big John B. comes into the 2017 Gold Cup with the third-best HRN rating in the projected field at 7.58, and he is also in the overall rankings at that site at No. 136 on the list.

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