Calhoun: Derby Distance ‘Could Be A Great Equalizer’ For Last-Minute Entry Mr. Big News

Trainer Bret Calhoun announced late Monday that Mr. Big News, winner of the Oaklawn Stakes at 46-1 back in April, would be entered in the 146th Kentucky Derby. The 3-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway hasn’t run since finishing sixth in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes on July 11, and Calhoun had even been considering a switch to turf, since Mr. Big News is out of a daughter of Galileo.

“After the Blue Grass, I don’t think we got quite the trip we wanted there, and it was a little bit disappointing,” Calhoun said. “So, I thought with his pedigree that maybe we should shift gears and try to make a top turf horse out of him, so we started pointing toward the (Grade 2) American Turf (1 1/16 miles on the grass at Churchill on the Kentucky Derby undercard).

“In the last week or so, we’ve gotten him over the turf course twice here (at Churchill), and its been very soft. We’ve had some rain, and its not drying out well. It looks like we’re going to have some more rain and moisture throughout the week, so we felt like the turf course was going to be a little too soft for his liking. We started thinking about the Derby again, which had been in the back of our mind for the past month, knowing its probably not going to overfill. We really think he’ll relish the mile and a quarter, he’s training really well over the dirt here, so we decided to take a swing.

“Besides that, (owner) Chester Thomas has had a bad case of Derby fever the last few days!”

Bred in Kentucky by Don Alberto Stable, Mr. Big News was a $95,000 yearling purchase for Thomas’ Allied Racing Stable at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall sale. The colt has won two of his seven starts and earned $168,553.

In Saturday’s rescheduled Run for the Roses, Mr. Big News drew post position nine and has morning-line odds of 50-1. He’ll be ridden by jockey Tyler Gaffalione in the 1 1/4-mile dirt classic.

“The distance is definitely a key factor; you can’t run him too far,” Calhoun said. “He’s always finishing big, he’s always galloping out strong, so I think that could be an equalizer in here. Obviously there’s some horses on paper that are more talented, but I think the distance could be a great equalizer.”

Thanks to the National Turfwriters and Broadcasters Association (NTWAB), which has assembled a group of pool reporters providing independent reporting to members unable to be on the Churchill Downs grounds this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

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