TORONTO, August 26 - Kendel Standlee’s Big Band Sound, with Tyler Pizarro aboard, took over in mid-stretch and drew off to a two and one-half length tally in the featured $202,400 Play the King Stakes, Sunday at Woodbine.

It was only the second win in seven starts this year for the five-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Bernstein, but he’d been knocking at the door, with four consecutive runner-up finishes in added money events at Woodbine, before being freshened by trainer Danny Vella after a neck loss to Riding the River in the King Edward on June 24.

Today, he was full value for his first stakes win in the Grade 2, seven furlong turf contest, which is considered a prep for the $1 million Ricoh Woodbine Mile here on September 16.

Sent postward the 5-2 second choice behind favoured Smokey Fire, Big Band Sound enjoyed a perfect trip, sitting in fourth place on the rail behind pacesetters Artic Fern and Stormy Rush, through an opening quarter in 23.33 and a half in 46.21 over a very firm E.P. Taylor Turf Course.

Pizarro then found a seam in mid-stretch and Big Band Sound exploded to the front, with more than enough in the tank to hold off a closing Riding the River, while Delegation hung on for third, in a final time of 1:21.62. Favoured Smokey Fire faded to ninth and last after being up with the leaders early on.

“Danny and I talked in the paddock and decided we’d like to be a little closer,” explained Pizarro. “There wasn’t that much speed on paper so we just wanted to get him into the race, get him to relax. We got perfect cover. He relaxed very well and when I asked him to go, he just bulled right through those horses and never stopped running.

“I had no worries about him (being rank). He brought his A game today. It definitely feels good (to win). He definitely deserves it. He’s a wonderful horse and hopefully he can go further from here.”

Added Vella, who won this race in 1995 with King Ruckus, “He’s a really nice horse. This is what it’s about for us trainers. A good horse does good things. He came into the race very well and hopefully we did the right thing in freshening him. He ran four very tough races in the spring. We thought a fresh horse in the fall would be worth having.

“The Mile is certainly something we’d all like to run in, and be a part of. It’s a great race. I’ll have to talk to the owners but certainly it’s in our sights. He gets the trip (mile). He showed that. And now he’s got his race in him, he should be ready for a prime effort.”

Big Band Sound picked up a pot of $120,000 for the win, pushing his career bankroll to $362,264, impressive for a horse who competed at Woodbine last October in a $40,000 claimer, the last time he ran for a tag.

Big Band Sound paid $7.80, $4.10 and $3, combining with Riding the River ($5.80, $3.60) for a $29.70 (2-8) exactor. A 2-8-11 (Delegation, $4.30 to show) triactor was worth $320.40 while a $1 Superfecta [2-8-11-3 (Artic Fern)] rewarded backers with a $788.65 payoff.