04/07/2015 1:16PM

Hardest Core to start season in Man o’ War

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Hardest Core upsets the Arlington Million last summer.

Last season’s Arlington Million winner, Hardest Core, is on target to make his 5-year-old debut in the Grade 1 Man o’ War at Belmont Park on May 9, according to trainer Eddie Graham.

Hardest Core is based at the Runnymede Farm of his majority owners, Gregory, Caroline, and Andrew Bentley, in the beautiful Unionville area of Pennsylvania. Graham has had Hardest Core in training since Jan. 1, with the bulk of his preparation coming at the nearby Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland due to winter conditions at Runnymede.

“I have stalls at Fair Hill, and he’s been galloping there,” Graham said. “The ground is just getting good here now on the farm.”

When conditions permit, Hardest Core will resume training at Runnymede, getting his daily exercise on the hills and dips of the surrounding countryside.

The Bentleys and minority owner Rusty Carrier purchased Hardest Core for $210,000 at the 2013 Keeneland November sale. Following a Parx allowance win and a small stakes victory at Delaware Park, Hardest Core posted a stunning victory in the Arlington Million. He concluded last season with an eighth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita. A bit fresh and unable to find early cover, he took his rider to the lead six furlongs from home and then weakened in the stretch.

Because of its 1 3/8-mile distance, the Man o’ War might seem like an odd comeback spot following six months on the sidelines, but Graham, the Bentleys, and Carrier have steeplechase backgrounds, and Graham is comfortable that fitness will not be an issue.

“Everyone is excited about this year,” Graham said. “I think he’s a more mature and stronger horse this year. At 4, he was so big. Now, this year, I think he is growing into his body.”

Graham also has selected a comeback race for Giant Shadow, a 4-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway. Giant Shadow is being pointed to the $100,000 Dahlia Stakes at Pimlico on April 18. The Dahlia is a one-mile turf race.

Giant Shadow was having difficulty dealing with life at the racetrack when the Bentleys bought her last winter. She calmed down, began eating better, and showed improvement in her training when moved to the farm. She won a maiden race at Parx, an allowance at Laurel, and an optional-claiming race at Parx in succession before concluding her season with an 11th-place finish in the Long Island Handicap at Belmont Park.

Amy Hurley More than 1 year ago
This horse is such a good story, I only hope he returns to his form of last summer. I think they should at least consider a new jockey, too - nothing against Eriluis Vaz, but on a big stage, you want a rider who's not going to panic and knows how to judge pace a little better.
David Benning More than 1 year ago
Boy do I agree with that - however, Graham's wife tweeted that the colt had a mind of his own that day and would not have rated for anybody. I find that hard to believe. In the 1/4 mile where he went to the lead he went 21 and change, I can remember watching it and thinking - the rider completely lost it, he was not trying to rate him, and the race was over as soon as he ran that insane 1/4 mile. This horse needs a strong rider. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening.
tommy More than 1 year ago
This horse punished me while the track stole my money!! Hardest core entered 2 races in the same day at Arlington and I used hardest core in pick 3!!! Next thing you know he scratches in the first race and ran in the 2nd race and he won!! I didn't have him in pick 3 because the track didn't scratch him for first race and I singled him!! The track didn't refund my money at the very least and they said we replaced him with the favor which lost. I said I didn't like the favor or else I would have bet him!!!!
stockmann9914 . More than 1 year ago
Welcome to horse racing Tommy! There's a million stories out there.
Mark Garcia More than 1 year ago
VO2 max. If you used the 2nd highest horse with VO2 max you would have won.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Nope, I knew hardcore would win so that's why I singled him in race 1 but he raced in race 2 and won!! Then because he scratched, instead of them refunding money, they replaced him with the favor which lost!! It was in Arlington !! Luckily I saw that and bet him to win next race as a long shot and he won. Still, I was supposed to get money from the pick 3 also. The track steals money whenever they can. Also I played double at Santa Anita, and my horse was a late scratch and they don't refund money!!!
Kristopher Marshall More than 1 year ago
Please! Nobody knows a horse is going to win. Maybe Mr. Ed, but nobody else.
Vince Piscitelli More than 1 year ago
Nonsense. Every steward in America knows AHEAD of time who will win and if they have to, will make any necessary adjustments. Vince P
Speedjama More than 1 year ago
How is it you knew the horse was going to win but not scratch? At some point you need to take responsibility to know the scratch board.
Eleanor Sniegowski More than 1 year ago
Only at oaklawn if your chris hartman or one of the other juice trainers do you know the results beforehand.