03/14/2012 3:56PM

Aqueduct: Emotional Hooper targets Excelsior repeat

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Inherit the Gold has won 6 of his last 12 starts and will be seeking a repeat victory in Saturday's Grade 3 Excelsior Stakes.

Trainers want to win every race, but a victory by Inherit the Gold in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Excelsior Stakes would carry extra special meaning to trainer Jim Hooper.

On Tuesday, Hooper learned that his father, Dr. Jack Hooper, was moved into hospice care in Indiana with congenital heart failure. He is 89 and was told three years ago that he probably only had a few months to live.

“He responded to the point where he was ambulatory,” Hooper said as he fought back tears Wednesday morning standing along the rail at Belmont Park’s training track. “But now they’ve taken him off the medication. We don’t want him to suffer.”

While Dr. Jack Hooper wasn’t involved in racing, the younger Hooper said his father has been very supportive of his son’s racing endeavors. Inherit the Gold has been Hooper’s biggest success, winning 6 of his last 12 starts, including last year’s Excelsior by 6 1/4 lengths.

“It’s given him a lot of thrills the last year and a half,” Hooper said. “He watches all the races on TVG. I’m hoping he still has the ability to watch this race.”

A field of six was entered for the Excelsior. Redding Colliery, who won the Stymie last out, drew the rail. Outside of him are Birdrun, Inherit the Gold, San Pablo, Marilyn’s Guy, and Norman Asbjornson.

Stormy’s Majesty, who beat Inherit the Gold by a half-length in the Mr. GJG Stakes on Feb. 12, did not enter due to a foot problem, according to trainer Dominic Galluscio.

Excelsior Stakes, Post Time: 4:52 ET Saturday

Purse: $150,000; 1 1/8 miles

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Redding Colliery

K. McLaughlin

A. Garcia

5-2

1

Birdrun

W. Mott

J. Alvarado

5-1

1

Inherit The Gold

J. Hooper

E. Castro

6-1

1

San Pablo

T. Pletcher

C. Velasquez

2-1

1

Marilyn's Guy

A. Dutrow

C. Lopez

3-1

1

Norman Asbjornson

C. Grove

J. Acosta

15-1