Arlington Victory for Hardest Core

When Hardest Core left the starting gates in Saturday’s 32nd running of the Arlington Million, no one seriously expected the four-year-old gelding to cross the finish line in first place. Running at 11-1 with jockey Eriluis Vaz at the reigns, Hardest Core made his way to first place in the field of seven to beat 9-5 favorite Magician to the winning post by a length, covering the 1 ¼ distance in 2:01 and claiming his first graded stakes victory. Considering the story behind this plucky horse makes his Arlington Million win all the more amazing…

Owned by Andrew Bentley Stables and trained by Edward Graham, Hardest Core was sired by Hard Spun with his dam being Lillybuster. Bought for $210,000 by Andrew Bentley at the Keeneland Sale in November last year, Hardest Core was gelded before being transported to Unionville, PA, and turned out to pasture. When checking up on him later, Graham discovered that the newly gelded horse had suffered complications from the surgery. He had collapsed on the grass and his intestine was protruding. Fortunately the New Bolton Center – a renowned large animal teaching hospital – is located close to the farm and Hardest Core underwent surgery to remove 18 feet of his intestine. Living up to his name, Hardest Core made a remarkable recovery and was up and about in days.

Graham had reportedly considered using Hardest Core as a jumper, but decided to see how he fared in flat races. He was listed for both the American St. Leger and Arlington Million when positions were drawn on the Wednesday before the race. The choice was made to run him in the Million – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Magician was tipped as the favorite to win the Arlington Million – and with good reason. Among his many achievements, early last November, Magician traveled from Ireland to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and won the race. It was highly anticipated that he would repeat the performance at Arlington on Saturday. Third place winner for the second consecutive year was seven year-old gelding Side Glance from England.