Hard Aces Wins the Gold Cup at Santa Anita

By Victoria Barnett July 01, 2015

Last Saturday, the Breeders’ Cup Challenge "Win and You’re In" series continued with the Gold Cup at
Santa Anita, the second race in the series for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.  If you were looking for an exciting day, you certainly got one!

Earlier in the day, Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, along with
Victor Espinoza and Bob Baffert, made a special appearance and received an energetic welcome as they paraded in front of a crowd of 21,528. 

The Gold Cup was quite the thriller to the say the least. Apparently this is Victor Espinoza’s world and we are just living it. Espinoza led Hard Aces to a win by a nose over Hopportunity and earned an automatic spot in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Keeneland. Talk about a photo finish!

goldcup recap 350x253 resized 600

Towards the beginning of the race, Espinoza chose to hold off and save ground to then get through on the inside. Batti Man took an early lead for about half a mile until Big Cazanova rushed ahead. Hard Aces maintained his position in 10th.  Espinoza hugged the rail, found an opening near the top of the stretch and then battled bravely as it came down to the wire with Hopportunity. Hard Aces stole the stage and won by the thin margin of a nose hair.

The 8-5 favorite Catch a Flight finished third followed by Finnegans Wake, Big Cazanova, Lideris, Majestic City, Moreno, Poshsky, Motown Men and Batti Man, respectively. Hard Aces covered the 1 ¼ miles in 2:02.46, earning his first graded stakes victory.

(Image courtesy of Breeders' Cup)

Watch The Gold Cup at Santa Anita replay:

What’s next for American Pharoah?

I think we can all agree we are dying to know what move American Pharoah will be making next. There’s talk that he will run in the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park or the Jim Dandy at Saratoga on Aug. 1. The Pacific Classic at Del Mar has not been ruled out either, but it looks like we will just have to wait and see. For now, he is taking some well-deserved time off! Bob Baffert said American Pharoah will start training at Del Mar on July 9.

How the Breeders’ Cup® Works

There are a few different ways to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup. The first is by winning a
Breeders’ Cup Challenge race. The Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series consists of 78 stakes races. Winning one of these races automatically earns you entry into the corresponding
Breeders’ Cup Championship race and also waives entry and starting fees.

There is a total of six challenge races for the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the second of which was the
Gold Cup at Santa Anita. The next Breeders’ Cup Challenge for the Breeders’ Cup Classic will be the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on August 2. 

The second way to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup is based on a points system, where horses are ranked based on their performance in major races during the year. Points are awarded based on the race quality and then by win, place and show (first, second and third place finishes). Take a look at the scale below:





Grade 1




Grade 2




Grade 3





The third way to gain entry to the Breeders’ Cup is to be selected by a panel of experts. For each Breeders’ Cup Championship race, there are a maximum of 14 horses selected. Seven of those horses qualify through Challenge races or the points system. Seven are selected by experts. The reasoning for this method of qualifying is to ensure the highest quality of competition for each of the races.

Breeders Cup Experiences Keeneland View of the Starting Gate resized 600

Attend the 2015 Breeders’ Cup®

We already know Hard Aces and Noble Bird will be two of the horses to race in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Who else will join alongside?

With an Official Ticket Package direct from Breeders’ Cup and QuintEvents, you can be there to witness the action! Get an unbeatable experience that includes tickets, hospitality, exclusive insider extras and much more. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to head to the heart of the Bluegrass State in October and see some of the best horses compete at the 2015 Breeders’ Cup!


Secure Your Spot at the 2015 Breeders' Cup!