ARCADIA, Calif. (AP) -- Odds-on favorite Mr Gruff led from the gate and won the $70,000 Joe Hernandez Handicap at Santa Anita on Sunday for his sixth victory in eight starts on Santa Anita's downhill turf course.
Ridden by Joel Rosario for trainer Ron Ellis, Mr Gruff easily overcame a tough inside draw in the field of eight to take the lead and never gave it up, holding off a charge from long shot Ain't No Other to win by a half-length in 1:12.06.
All but one of the 8-year-old gelding's seven lifetime wins came on the unique downhill layout at Santa Anita.
"This horse just loves running down the hill," Ellis said.
Mr Gruff paid $3.60, $2.80 and $2.60. Ain't No Other paid $6.80 and $3.80. Australian import Pressday was third and returned $3.40 to show.
A son of Mr. Greeley and Ruff owned by Gary Broad, Mr Gruff earned $44,400 for a career total of $351,510. His lifetime record is 7-2-2 in 13 races.
Ellis said his next start would be Santa Anita's April 21 San Simeon Handicap, a race Mr Gruff won in 2009 and 2010.