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Patriots Rule rallies to win California Dreamin’ Stakes

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DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Long-shot Patriots Rule rallied from last to beat Ambitious Brew by a half-length Sunday in the $150,000 California Dreamin’ Stakes at Del Mar.

Patriots Rule ran 1 1/16 miles on the turf course in 1:41.78 and paid $35.80, $12.40 and $6.60 his sixth victory in 21 starts. The 5-year-old earned $85,500 to push his total to $421,730.

“She broke well and I had a beautiful trip,” jockey Joe Talamo said. “I got over to the fence and tried to save all I could. When you’re coming from last, you’re looking for spots to get through. I didn’t want to have to go six-wide and lose all that ground. I got lucky with that and he had a good kick late. I like the way this turf course is playing. It’s fair. You can win on the front end, or you can win coming from the back – like I did.”

Patriots Rule was making his first start in almost a year for owner Charles Garvey and trainer Robertino Diodoro,

“Since we gave this horse a well-deserved rest, he’s come back working so well,” assistant trainer Sean Williams said. “Everything we’ve done with him has been a prep for this and it worked out perfectly.”

Ambitious Brew returned $6.60 and $4.60 in the race for California-bred horses.

“This horse tries hard every time,” jockey Flavien Prat said. “He’s a nice horse. This just might have been a little too far for him.”

Boozer paid $4 to show. Alert Bay was fourth, followed by Somethings Unusual, Soi Phet, Poshsky and Avanti Bello.

Hard Aces won the Grade 3 $100,000 Cougar II Handicap, beating Quick Casablanca by a half-length to end a nine-race losing streak that dated to the 2015 Gold Cup at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Santiago Gonzalez for trainer John Sadler, the 6-year-old Hard Aces ran 1 1/2 miles on the dirt in 2:30.55 and paid $2.80 and $2.10. He had seven victories in 33 starts with earnings of $999,645.

“He’s a grinder and a hard horse to ride because he pulls himself up and never wins by much, but he got a very good ride today,” Sadler said. “We’ll look at maybe something long on the grass near the end of the meet and we’ll obviously look at the Pacific Classic.”

Quick Casablanca returned $2.80 to place in the four-horse field. Favored Hoppertunity was scratched Friday morning.

Native River gets wire-to-wire win in Cheltenham Gold Cup

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CHELTENHAM, England (AP) Native River delivered an exhibition in front-running to outlast favorite Might Bite in a thrilling duel to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Britain’s most prestigious jumps race, on Friday.

Ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, 5-1 shot Native River took the lead right from the start and was never passed in the race over 3 miles and 2 1/2 furlongs in front of a crowd of 70,000.

After they jumped the last fence, Native River and Might Bite were neck and neck, but Johnson got a kick out of the Colin Tizzard-trained horse on the uphill finish and Native River won by 4 1/2 lengths – a year after finishing third in the race.

For Johnson, it was a second victory in the Gold Cup – 18 years after his first on Looks Like Trouble.

“It’s been a long 18 years,” Johnson said. “To be honest, I was a passenger.

“The more I asked from him, the better he jumped.”

Might Bite’s handler, Nicky Henderson, was looking to become the first trainer to capture the Cheltenham Festival’s three signature races in the same year – the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup.

It was Might Bite’s first defeat over fences, and Henderson said the heavy going didn’t do the horse any favors – especially against a rival who is a past winner of the Welsh National and the Hennessy Gold Cup

“It was the right thing to track Native River because no other horse got into the race, he had to be in the right place,” Henderson said of the 4-1 favorite.

“On better ground, stamina wouldn’t have been an issue. But in that ground you have to work so much harder. The winner is a Welsh National winner and the reason I’ve never won that race is because I can’t find horses that go in that ground.”

Native River won his owners 369,822 pounds ($515,000).

Anibale Fly, a 33-1 shot, was third.

Jockey Ruby Walsh to miss rest of Cheltenham Festival

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CHELTENHAM, England (AP) Jockey Ruby Walsh will miss the remainder of the Cheltenham Festival after aggravating a leg injury when falling off his horse during the RSA Insurance Novices’ chase on Wednesday.

Walsh, the most successful jockey in the festival’s history with 52 wins, had only recently returned to competition after a four-month layoff due to a broken leg. He was taken to a hospital for X-rays and his sister Jennifer said in a statement that “unfortunately he has aggravated a recent leg injury and will see his consultant in Dublin next week for further assessment.”

Walsh had been set to ride Killultagh Vic in Friday’s Gold Cup.

On Wednesday’s second day of the festival, Altior extended his unbeaten record over jumps to 13 in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Altior had a slow start eventually powered seven lengths clear of the Willie Mullins-trained Min.

It was also a good day for trainer Gordon Elliott who took home three wins, headlined by Samcro in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

The 8-11 favorite beat Black Op by two and three-quarter lengths.