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Gail Cox grew up in Toronto and rode in the Pony Club before transitioning into the show horse world and then on to the race track. She started as an exercise rider galloping horses before taking out her own trainer's license nearly 20 years ago. Gail still rides many of the horses she trains . She worked for Olympic show jumper and thoroughbred trainer Jim Day.
Born in Lafayette, Louisiana, Albarado like many other jockeys got his start at a very young age riding in races at the local “bush” tracks. He has won nearly 4,200 races in his career and was the regular rider of Horse of the Year Curlin, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby before going on to win many prestigious races like The Preakness Stakes, The Stephen Foster Handicap, The Woodward, The Breeders’ Cup Classic, and the Dubai World Cup. Other top mounts include Mineshaft, Court Vision, and Endorsement.
Hillsbrook Farms is owned and operated by Garland Williamson of Erin, Ontario. Williamson is the breeder and owner of Hard Not to Like, as well as her mother Like a Gem. Hard Not to Like became the first filly in over 10 years to beat males in the prestigious Cup and Saucer Stakes at Woodbine Race Course.
Hard Not to Like will be trying the Animal Kingdom plan of making her dirt debut in the big dance. While Animal Kingdom captured the Kentucky Derby last year in his first dirt race, Hard Not to Like will try to do the same when going in this season’s Kentucky Oaks.
The gray filly ran herself into Oaks contention in her main track bow at Keeneland, finishing second in the Ashland Stakes on the Polytrack. She is following in her sire Hard Spun’s hoofsteps, as that stallion captured his final Derby prep on the Polytrack at Turfway Park in the Lane’s End Stakes.
Hard Spun would go on to finish second in the Derby, third in the Preakness Stakes and fourth in the Belmont Stakes, and completed his racetrack career with a nice second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic that same year. Unfortunately, that was in 2007, the year of Curlin, so despite taking the King’s Bishop and Kentucky Cup Classic, Hard Spun wasn’t able to add an Eclipse Award to his mantle.
Hard Not to Like gets both stamina and speed from her sire, and has already won a stakes at 1 1/16 miles, albeit on the turf at Woodbine where she has spent the majority of her career. In that regard the gray miss is like her dam, the Tactical Cat mare Like a Gem.
Like a Gem raced exclusively at Woodbine, racking up scores in the Wonder Where, Maple Leaf and River Memories Stakes on both the turf and main track. She is a half-sister to fellow Woodbine stakes winner Win and Reign.
Hard Not to Like’s female family has also produced the likes of Grade 1 winner Firery Ensign, undefeated Grade 2 scorer Run Away and Hide, and Venezuelan champion Tan Bonita.
The filly’s Danzig sire line has done well when crossed with her broodmare sire line of Storm Cat, producing Group 1 hero Mujahid, among others.
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