11/05/2014 2:35PM

Hardest Core will wait until next year

Four-Footed Fotos
Hardest Core, shown winning the Arlington Million, is back in Chester County, Pa., where he will begin jogging in January towards his 2015 campaign.

Hardest Core’s journey to California for the Breeders’ Cup Turf did not turn out as planned. He ended up too close to a hot pace, took the lead five furlongs from home, and was swallowed by the pack in upper stretch.

The good news is that he came out of the race in fine shape and will race again as a 5-year-old. As a matter of fact, as a gelding, he should have a lot of racing in front of him.

Hardest Core, the winner of the Arlington Million in his start prior to the Breeders’ Cup, has been returned to Runnymede Farm in Chester County, Pa. Plans call for him to be given the rest of the year off and then to begin jogging in January.

“He’s happy, glad to be home,” trainer Eddie Graham said Tuesday. “He’s out galloping in his paddock right now.”

The first quarter-mile of the 1 1/2-mile Turf, which begins about halfway up the hill section of the Santa Anita course, went in a reasonable 25 seconds. After that, the pace quickened markedly through fractions of 47.76 seconds, 1:11.15, a mile in 1:36.10, and a final time of 2:24.91. The top four runners after the opening half-mile finished no better than seventh.

Hardest Core took the lead midway around the clubhouse turn under Eriluis Vaz and was used up by the time he reached the stretch. He finished eighth, beaten 4 3/4 lengths.

“He went too fast, too soon,” Graham said. “Vaz never had the opportunity to cover him up. When he went to the lead so early, I knew he wouldn’t be able to make it home. It was just bad racing luck.”

While disappointed, Graham is already looking ahead to next year.

“That’s the thing with our sport, it will keep you humble,” Graham said. “I want to freshen him for the spring now. He’ll start up jogging around Jan. 1. We’ll put some special shoes on him, I call them his all-terrain shoes, and what we do out here is start them jogging on the roads of the farm.”