Mr. Big News Registers 46-1 Shocker In Oaklawn Stakes

Making the most of a torrid pace, Allied Racing Stable’s Mr. Big News at 46-1 odds came from far back under Gabriel Saez to win Saturday’s $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes by a half-length at Oaklawn racetrack in Hot Springs, Ark. The Giant’s Causeway colt rallied wide into the stretch just ahead of Farmington Road – who was also far back in the early stages of the race – and the pair ran past the gasping front-runners over a sloppy track to finish first and second, respectively, with co-favorite Taishan 3 1/4 lengths back in third in the field of 13 3-year-olds. The other co-favorite at 5-2 odds, Thousand Words, finished 11th after splaying his front feet at the start and nearly unseating jockey Joe Talamo. He was never a factor in the race.

The winner, trained by Bret Calhoun, ran 1 1/8 miles on a sloppy racetrack in 1:49.89. With the win, Mr. Big News earned a guaranteed berth in the Preakness Stakes. The first three finishers in the Oaklawn Stakes receive automatic berths in the May 2 Arkansas Derby.

The Oaklawn Stakes, was co-featured on Saturday’s spectator-free 12-race program at Oaklawn along with the $150,000 Oaklawn Mile for older runners. Both races were added to the stakes schedule in 2019 when Oaklawn extended its live race meeting until the first Saturday in May. The races were originally scheduled at the end of the meet, but track officials rearranged the stakes schedule when other tracks were required to suspend racing because of the coronavirus pandemic. The move pushed the G1 Arkansas Derby and other graded stakes to the final days of the meet.

Tyler Baze, aboard Gold Street – one of three Steve Asmussen trainees in the Oaklawn Stakes – gunned his mount from the outside post to the lead, setting sprinter fractions of :22.07 for the opening quarter mile and :45.47 for the half. Mine That Bird Derby winner Sir Rick was his closest pursuer, but going into the far turn, with six furlongs clocked in 1:10.92, Taishan and jockey Joel Rosario made a wide bid for the lead.

Mr. Big News and Farmington Road (under Martin Garcia) were 11th and 12th early but began to make up ground on the outside of horses approaching the far turn. Both horses remained well off the rail approaching the stretch, the mile in 1:37.42, and they quickly raced past Taishan, with Mr. Big News weaving in and out under intermittent left- and right-handed encouragement from Saez.

After the top three finishers came Basin, Shoplifted, Digital, Coach Bahe, Gold Street, Background, Something Natural, Thousand Words, Flap Jack and Sir Rick.

“He warmed up good and was on the muscle,” winning jockey Saez said. “He didn’t break as sharp as I wanted, so I just let him be, let him get into his own rhythm. When he hit the backstretch, he started moving and I said ‘OK Buddy. Go on with it.’ I kept track of the leaders. When we got to the top of the stretch, I swung him out into the clear and he found a different gear. He got the job done. I’m really pleased with that.”

Martin Garcia, aboard Farmington – who had blinkers added for this race by trainer Todd Pletcher – said: “When he broke, he broke clear. He doesn’t have any speed, so I’m trying to save ground as much as I could. I ducked in to the rail and at the three-eighths I found a way to go and followed the winner around and he just took off. It looks like my horse is going to be a good horse. A little more distance and he’ll be better. Big time, he’ll be tough next time.”

Out of an Irish-bred mare, Unappeased, by Galileo, Mr. Big News was bred in Kentucky by Don Alberto Corporation and sold for $95,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October Yearling Sale, with Taylor Made the consignor. Unappeased is out of a full sister to champion and major producer Glorious Song.

Mr. Big News was unimpressive in his first two starts at 2, beaten more than 10 lengths each time out at Keeneland and Churchill Downs, then woke up with a second-place finish in his 3-year-old debut at Fair Grounds. The colt broke his maiden next out Jan. 20, winning by a nose over Wild Union at the New Orleans track, then rallying to be fifth in a division of the G2 Risen Star Stakes beyind Modernist.

“We’ve had a lot of confidence in this horse for a while,” Calhoun said. “Kind of sick we didn’t get the opportunity to run in the Louisiana Derby. He loved the track, trained well there and I thought that suited him well. We didn’t know how it was going to work out today, with this different surface and everything, but he performed like we thought he would the last couple of months. I know he was a big long shot, but we’ve had quite a bit of confidence in him over the last couple of months. It was a great setup. It was very hot fractions and beneficial for us. Gabe (Saez) worked out a good trip for that horse. It was a trip that’s maybe not the best trip for a lot of horses, but it was the best trip for him.”

Calhoun said Mr. Big News would return to his base at Fair Grounds before considering whether or not to run in the Arkansas Derby.

Thousand Words and Joe Talamo had a bad start in the Oaklawn Stakes

The post Mr. Big News Registers 46-1 Shocker In Oaklawn Stakes appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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