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Dec 05, 2014

Red Rifle dominates to win Hawthorne Gold Cup


Stickney, IL ( - Red Rifle, ridden by Florent Geroux, went wire to wire versus 10 other distance runners to capture Saturday's $250,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne.Race Course.

Saddled by Todd Pletcher, Red Rifle had the lead as the field went under the wire for the first time in the 1 1/4-mile Gold Cup. He was stalked by Midnight Aria, Abraham and 70-1 longshot Hattaash.

Red Rifle, sent off at 6-1, controlled the pace throughout the 1 1/4 miles and registered a 2 1/4-length win over a late running Mister Marti Gras, second last year as well. Finishing third was 22-1 longshot Call Me George with 3-1 co-favorite Effinex in fourth.

Completing the order were Ever Rider, Street Spice, Fordubai, Abraham, 3-1 favorite Cary Street, Hattaash and Midnight Aria.

The time for the Gold Cup was 2:03.24, the fastest time since 2006 winner It's No Joke's 2:03.89.

"I never rode him before but I saw a lot of his races," Florent said. "He's been running in a lot of those mile and a half races. I knew he was a nice horse. He broke a track record at Sam Houston so it was nice to see him back on dirt. He really liked it. On paper it looked like there were a few horses that were going to go for the lead. Todd told me to just break sharp and if he made the lead, fine, if not just sit off the pace. I wasn't going to use him hard to make the lead and have him get tired in the stretch. Just make sure I had something left in the tank. The horse re-broke at the quarter pole. That was nice."

Red Rifle, owned by Twin Creeks Racing, added $150,000 to his bankroll. The 4-year-old chestnut gelding has won five of 13 career starts for $412,520.

Red Rifle began 2014 with a second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 17 and came back to capture the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston on March 1.

The 4-year-old finished ninth in Keeneland's Ben Ali and fourth in the Westchester at Belmont Park. Moving to the turf, Red Rifle ran second in a pair of allowance races at Belmont and Saratoga, and won the Yankee Affair at Belmont on Sept. 6 before running second in the Sycamore at Keeneland on Oct. 16.

Red Rifle paid $14.80, $7.60 and $4.80. Mister Marti Gras returned $5.60 and $3.80, and Call Me George paid $10.20 to show.

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