into the 2014 Arlington Million there was little attention given to any horse
that had yet to enter a graded stakes race. After it was over, Hardest Core
made sure everyone knew who he was, as his first graded stakes attempt became an
from the inside post number 1, Hardest Core made the most of his position and
immediately established a potential ground saving trip along the rail.
Meanwhile, Side Glance from the far outside post number 7 made a strong move to
the front and took over as the pace setter through the first turn.
much speed in the seven horse field it wasn’t too much of surprise that the
Andrew Balding trainee held the others in check through pedestrian splits of
25.00, 49.45 and 1:13.67.
they made their way through the final turn, the close stalking and post time
favorite Magician (IRE) appeared to be on his way to meeting his expectations.
The 4-yr-old trained by Aidan O’Brien had the position he wanted and couldn’t
ask for a better shot at winning his first start in North America since scoring
the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita last November.
had a nice position. I had a good trip, no excuses”, said jockey Joseph O’Brien.
“He might have been better at 12 furlongs, but he ran a good race.”
may not have been at the top of his game, but he dug in down the stretch and
fought hard all the way to the wire. But it wasn’t enough as an unlikely contender
was mounting an unbelievable final furlong of his own.
along the rail through the backstretch, and final turn, provided the ground
saving trip they were looking for. As the leader of the second wave of horses, Hardest Core never lost touch with the pacesetters, Slide Glance followed
closely by Magician.
in behind them was very ideal until they reached the point in the race where rider Eriluis Vaz was forced to ask for more. Once they hit the top of the stretch an
important decision was made. Vaz had no hole on the inside as Side Glance wasn’t budging. Instead, Vaz took Hardest Core three wide, drifting
to the sixth path, before straightening out, finding his stride, and rallying
strongly to track down Magician deep in the stretch.
a good horse, he’s a nice horse and I knew he was going to make his run”, said
Jockey Eriluis Vaz. “I have to thank the owner and trainer, they have so
supportive and it’s amazing.”
Core was good enough to pull away and win by a full length en route to a final
time of 2:01.51. His final odds were 11-1, the second longest shot in the field
behind Finnegan’s Wake at 13-1. It was the fourth consecutive win for Hardest
Core and third since he was switched over to trainer Edward Graham from the
barn of Kiaran McLaughlin.
was the first graded stakes start and victory for the gelding by Hard Spun –
Lillybuster. It was also the very first Arlington Million win for
all of the connections.
can’t explain what a great feeling this is.” said Hardest Core trainer Edward
Graham. That is especially true since the Arlington Million was not the only
graded stakes debut race he was considering. “I looked at the Sword Dancer,
looked at the Leger, all three races were tough, but thought a shorter field
would be better.”
a bold decision. Seeing that it paid off, it's now without question that it can be called a brilliant one.
As a non-graded stakes starter the American St. Leger was obvious but the intuition
of a trainer couldn’t have been displayed any better than it was at Arlington
Park today by Edward Graham.
in Kentucky, Hardest Core became the third consecutive North American bred winner of
the Arlington Million. For the day, Hardest Core also evened the score at two apiece
joining The Pizza Man, winner of the American St. Leger, as the second North
American winner of the four major stakes races.