07/20/2013 5:53PM

Monmouth: Hard Enough springs 12-1 surprise in Jersey Derby

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Hard Enough, claimed for $50,000 last winter, wins the Jersey Derby under Paco Lopez.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Hard Enough pulled a 12-1 upset in the $63,000 Jersey Derby for 3-year-olds on the turf at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

A $50,000 claim at Gulfstream Park over the winter, Hard Enough earned his second win since joining the Bobby Dibona barn.

“This is the best horse in my barn right now,” Dibona said. “It’s been a while since we had a horse of this caliber so we’re all very excited.”

Hard Enough had been running primarily in first-level allowance races, usually against older rivals. The Jersey Derby was an opportunity to face his own age group.

“We were looking to get back against 3-year-olds before the season wrapped up,” Dibona said. “He’s got some room to grow and mature. It was just good to be in his own class, and to see what we have.”

Hard Enough and jockey Paco Lopez were never worse than second at any point, sitting right behind the pacesetting Shining Copper. Hard Enough pulled even with the leader midway on the final turn and took charge a furlong from the finish.

Reporting Star, second most recently in the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes against Verrazano on the dirt, came on late to get second, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner.

Shining Copper, the 2-1 favorite, finished third.

The time was 1:41.06 for the 1 1/16 miles on the firm course. Hard Enough, a chestnut son of Hard Spun, paid $26.60 to win.

Vegas No Show was fourth followed by Gun Point, Sharp Omar, Keep the Canoli, English Minister, and Golden Jason.