The Hardacre Mile Handicap Goes to Copper Opus

The Hardacre Mile Handicap (Grade 2)- $300.000 Purse
GP- For Four Year Olds and Upward
One Mile on the Dirt
March 31, 2018

Copper Opus has had a successful career, but there seemed to be quite a few doubters out there that he could win the Hardacre Mile Handicap. He was the longest shot on the board, wasn’t part of our picks, and was only selected by 3.1% of HRP users in the pick ‘em. Safe to say, Copper Opus had to prove himself once again to be a top race horse, and there owuld be no better time to do it then in the race that preceded that FL Derby here at GP. Copper Opus was sharp today, stalking the pace setting Grounded In Reality and completing the pass in the turn. He had just enough to hold off the advance of another longshot, Awesome Indeed and that gives trainer Big Guns Stable their first win in the stake. Aboard the winner was J J Castellano, winning the race for the second time, and for the second year in a row. He rode West Northwest to victory this year, so he had to enjoy beating him in this race on his new mount. Congratulations to them! The time of the victory was 1:34.46, a middle of the road winning time when looking at past editions of the race. Here’s a look at how it happened!

(1/4 Mile- :23.10)- The quickest of them all out of the starting gate in the run up to the main track would be Grounded In Reality, the second choice on the board, running for Mb Stables. By the time they got to the quarter, he had a length advantage over our second place runner, Copper Opus, who would go on to win the race for Big Guns Stable. He was a length ahead of another who was familiar with winning this race, as West Northwest was third for Blushing Meadows. That is where the heart of the pack began, as Apocazeus ran in close proximity for Nakamura Stables, and the post time favorite, Smokey Stover’s Out On A Limb was right behind them. Nice Distorted Laff (Night Rider Stables) and Caught Stealing (Sir Daniel Martin) were part of the pack as well, running three and a half lengths from the lead. It was another length to Awesome Indeed (TwinTowersRacing). At the back, and running together were Well Proven (Mb Stables), True Code (D J C Racing Stables), and Heez On Fire (Aml Racing).

(½ Mile- :46.08)- In the backstretch, there was absolutely no let up with Grounded In Reality as he ran a similar second quarter, and he was able to slide over to the rail in the process. Copper Opus never let him get away, and continued to stalk the pace. Things spread out a little bit behind him, as while Apocazeus and West Northwest battled for third, they put a little distance on others. Approaching the turn, we saw Awesome Indeed made an advance, taking advantage of this opportunity, and moved up to fifth. He would be positioned well in the turn to pick off a couple more spots. Nice Distorted Laff, Out On A Limb, and Caught Stealing were unhurried as they ran three wide into the turn, four and half lengths from the lead. It’d be another length and a half now to Well Proven and True Code, and Heez On Fire was about another length back now.

(Top Of Stretch, 1.5F To Go)- About midway into the turn, Copper Opus makes his move on Grounded In Reality, and methodically completes the pass. Grounded In Reality was not able to provide much of a challenge here, and by the top of the stretch he had some more rivals poised to go around him as well. Meanwhile, Copper Opus now led by a length, and by two lengths over the next closest challenger that was moving forward. That would be Awesome Indeed, who also looked good in the turn, and easily passed Apocazeus. West Northwest was a tougher pass, but was would be a neck ahead of him as well at this point. Caught Stealing was four wide in fifth, as Nice Distorted Laff was passing the fading Apocazeus. Heez On Fire was getting into gear now, but his bid would have to be five wide. Out On A Limb had a lot of ground to make up to keep his supporters happy. True Code and Well Proven remained at the back, though a lane seemed available for True Code.

(Finish- 1:34.46)- Copper Opus was able to hold off the field in the stretch without too much of a worry. Perhaps in the very dying moments he was beginning to fatigue, allowing Awesome Indeed to get a lot closer, but Copper Opus did all that he needed to do here to pick up the win which puts him over $1,000.000 in career earnings. Awesome Indeed did run a good race to finish second. There would be a dead heat for third, between Caught Stealing, who ran a consistent race throughout, and Heez On Fire, who closed well and after being at the back. After then, it’d be a length to the next four that you could put a blanket over: Nice Distorted Laff, West Northwest, True Code, and Grounded In Reality. It’s another half length to Out On A Limb, then Well Proven and Apocazeus.

About The Winner: Copper Opus, trained by Big Guns Stables and ridden to victory by J J Castellano, is a five year old horse by Broomsticks Opus and out of the late Santeria. He was bred in Ontario by Big Guns Stables as a second quarter two year old, and they have been together throughout his 28-race career. Congratulations to the connections! The win is his seventh, and its his fourth stake win, but first one that is graded. His career earnings are now $1,005.960.

##   Horse Name Owner Name Jockey Odds   Fin Time SRF 
  Copper Opus Big Guns Stables Castellano J J 24.80   11/2 1:34.46  
  Awesome Indeed TwinTowersRacing Velazquez J R 11.80   21 1:34.56  
  Heez On Fire Aml Racing Colon L H 19.25   31 1:34.78  
  Caught Stealing Sir Daniel Martin Lanerie C J 15.00   31 1:34.78  
  Nice Distorted Laff Night Rider Stables Maragh R 24.70   5nk 1:35.00  
  West Northwest Blushing Meadows Ortiz J L 5.25   6no 1:35.06  
  True Code D J C Racing Stables Gallardo A A 13.10   7nk 1:35.07  
  Grounded In Reality Mb Stables Albarado R J 3.45   8nk 1:35.13  
  Out On A Limb Smokey Stover Bejarano R 2.70   93/4 1:35.20  
  Well Proven Mb Stables Ortiz I Jr 6.50   103/4 1:35.35  
  Apocazeus Nakamura Stables Prat F 18.15   11 1:35.53  

Track: Fast

Time: :23   :46   1:093  1:342

$2 Mutuel Prices:

6 – Copper Opus 51.60 26.00 21.00
3 – Awesome Indeed   13.90 8.20
10 – Heez On Fire     4.50
11 – Caught Stealing     5.20

$1 Exacta: 6 – 3 Paid 633.50

$1 Trifecta: 6 – 3 – 10 Paid 764.20, 6 – 3 – 11 Paid 764.20

— NS

Categories: Grade II, STAKES ARTICLES

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