Since he was claimed by his current connections (Peace Sign Stable) for $50,000 at the start of the year from breeder R. Larry Johnson, Hard Enough hit the board in five of eight before yesterday’s Restoration Stakes at Monmouth Park. Most recently, he took the 1 1/8-mile Jersey Derby over the New Jersey course July 20.

This time, Virginia-bred Hard Enough held off challengers on both sides late in the lane to capture the $60,000 Restoration Stakes at Monmouth Park by a head before a Saturday crowd of 12,637.

With Paco Lopez in the irons, Hard Enough saw Always Curious to his outside and Chamois and Michael With Us to his inside as that quartet charged for the wire in the mile and eighth turf event. Hard Enough had just enough left to win in a blanket finish, stepping the distance in 1:47 flat.

The winner paid $7.60, $4.20 and $2.80 and topped a $34.40 exacta. Michael With Us returned $4.40 to place and $2.80 to show. It was another head back to Always Curious, who paid $3.80 to show. Post-time favorite Chamois settled for fourth.

“I wasn’t surprised to see us in front,” said winning trainer Bobby Dibona, “but I was afraid of the fractions. He’s better when he’s relaxed and they were really moving so he had to give it his all for the win today.”

A three-year-old colt by Hard Spun from the Mr. Greeley mare Grecian Wings, Hard Enough has won four of his 14 lifetime starts, good for earnings of $140,040.

To see the Eqiubase Chart, click here.

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