October 2014 Issue - page 4

Page 4
October 2014
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
Hardest Core Stuns Racing World in Arlington Million, Heads to Breeders' Cup
by Terry Conway
Roll cameras. A relatively
unknown local owner, trainer
and jockey team up with Hard-
est Core to challenge a superb
field of turf runners including
the reigning Breeders' Cup Turf
champion in the 32nd edition of
the famed Arlington Million in
Chicago.
In the compelling back
stories that often that illuminate
the horse racing world, few can
match that of Hardest Core.
The four-year-old son of 2007
Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard
Spun is conditioned by former
jump jockey Eddie Graham at
his small farm outside Union-
ville, Pa. where the dark bay
colt battled for his life last fall.
Purchased as a three-year old
at the 2013 Keeneland Sale by
steeplechase horse owner Greg
Bentley for $210,000, Hardest
Core was a 30th birthday present
for Bentley's son Andrew, who
has Downs Syndrome.
In front of a crowd of
31,164, Hardest Core stunned the
racing world with his scintillating
victory over a superb field of turf
runners to win the purse of $1
million in the 1/4-mile test at Ar-
lington International Racecourse
on August 17. Closing outside
from third off the turn with
tremendous strides, Hardest Core
(11-1) stormed down the stretch
(a final quarter run in :23 2/5) to
The fact that Hardest Core is trained by a former Chester County jump jockey, comes from a two horse
stable, and nearly died from a castration gone wrong last year did not keep him from winning the
Arlington Million in Chicago in August. The Win and You’re In victory gave the gelding an automatic
berth and travel allowance to the $3 million Breeder’s Cup.
Photo by Four Footed Fotos
run down Side Glance, a Grade-1
winner in Australia and 9-5 favor-
ite Magician, winner of the 2013
Breeders' Cup Turf in the final
strides. Ridden by longtime Parx
jockey Erilus Vaz, it was Hardest
Core's first graded stakes score.
A resident of Unionville, Pa.,
Bentley is the CEO of a software
company in Exton, Pa. He has
been involved in racing since the
late 1990s, owning seven horses
overall. The family currently has
a two-horse stable.
With the victory Hardest
Core earned an automatic berth
with a travel allowance to the
$3 million Breeders Cup Turf at
Santa Anita Park on November 1,
as part of the Breeders' Cup "Win
and You're In" series. Primarily
a steeplechase trainer, Graham
is considering a $100,000 stakes
race at 1 1 /2-mile at Laurel
Racetrack in late September as a
prep for the BC Turf, or he may
train the horse on his farm up
to the 1 1/2-miles race that will
feature many of Europe's top turf
runners.
"Vaz rode with total confi-
dence, he believed the horse had
a good shot to win," said Graham
who has four steeplechase horses
in training and two on the flat--
Hardest Core and the filly Giant
Shadow.
"Arlington seems like a big
galloping course and (Hardest
Core) really liked it out there.
He's a very straightforward horse.
He'll let you know how he's
doing just by how he acts. We all
joke and call him the big strong
beast."
Surgery Gone Wrong
Still, the Arlington Million
wasn't Hardest Core's greatest
triumph. Last November he
was gelded at Graham's farm
not far from the Whip Tavern
in southern Chester County.
Things went terribly wrong
as Hardest Core developed
complications. Graham shipped
the colt to nearby New Bolton
Center where surgeons had to
cut out 18 feet of his intestines
to save his life.
"I turned him out the day
of his castration and he looked
great, but later he looked like
he was colicking," recalled
Graham, 43. "When I got to
him in the field his intestines
were coming out. It took seven
people to help get him up and
into a trailer. We weren't sure
he was going to get up, by some
miracle he did and we got him
over to New Bolton.
(Continued on page 13)
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