Sunday, September 11, 2016

It’s Da Big Hoss again

He rallies to take second Kentucky Turf Cup
‘All I can say is he’s second-best marathon horse in U.S.’

FRANKLIN, Ky. (Sept. 10, 2016) —With a convincing win going 12 furlongs in Saturday’s $600,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup – the meet’s richest race – Skychai Racing’s Da Big Hoss asserted himself as the top U.S.-bred marathoner in advance of the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), less than two months away. Under regular rider Florent Geroux, the odds-on favorite took command near the three-sixteenths pole and held off a stubborn Bullards Alley by 1 1/4-lengths.

“All I can say is he’s the second-best marathon horse in the United States,” said trainer Mike Maker, ceding the top position to five-time Group/Grade 1 winner Flintshire.

Da Big Hoss stayed to the inside through the early running, setting well off the early fractions of :51.87 for a half-mile and 1:43.50 for a mile, set by 60-1 longshot Rum Tum Tugger. At the five-sixteenths pole, which comes up just before a sharp turn into America’s longest stretch run, Da Big Hoss swung outside for a clear shot at the leaders. The trip was similar to the one he had in this race last year, and ended with the same result, with Da Big Hoss straightening on the outside and powering home a strong winner in the Grade 3 race.

“I’ve been riding him all year long and got some big wins with him and he’s just a very unique horse to ride,” said Geroux. “You need to ride confident, but you also cannot give him too much to do and make things impossible.”

Da Big Hoss completed 1 1/2 miles over the undulating turf course officially rated “good” in a hand-timed 2:35.08 and paid $3, $2.40 and $2.10. Although stewards labeled the course “good,” Equibase listed it as “yielding” for the sake of the official chart.

“The only thing I would have liked would to have been 1-2, but I’m not complaining,” said Maker, who also finished fourth with graded stakes-winner Greengrassofyoming. “I just have so much confidence in this horse. Some people get nervous. It’s hard to get nervous, when he’s accomplished what he’s done. He owes us nothing. Just enjoy everything we can.”

Bullards Alley, who was forwardly placed throughout, stayed on gamely for the place spot, 2 1/2 lengths ahead of early pacesetter Rum Tum Tugger in third.

Said Bullards Alley’s trainer Tim Glyshaw: “I couldn’t be prouder of him. That’s just a monster horse that Mike has, and we knew that we were probably running for second and to be second and earning $120,000, that’s the most he’s ever made in a race.”

The order of finish was completed by Greengrassofyoming, Power Foot, Life’s Journey, Behesht, Verger and Seve’s Road.

Da Big Hoss, by Lemon Drop Kid out of Lady Struck Gold (Touch Gold), boosted his career earnings to $1,551,696 with his 12th win from 21 starts. He has won eight races, including seven stakes, since being claimed for$50,000 at Churchill Downs’ 2015 spring meet.

Maker confirmed that a return trip to the Breeders’ Cup Turf – where he ran sixth last year – is next on the agenda.

“I think we just go right to the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “He runs really well fresh.”

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