“He can run all day, two miles if he had to,” said Mitchell of Big Booster, whose late surge produced a 1 3/4-length win in the April 20 'Capistrano, contested at about 1 3/4 miles on the Santa Anita turf.
That victory should make the 7-year-old gelding the likely favorite in the Gallant Man, a Cushion Track event added to the Hollywood Park stakes program this year by Martin Panza, the track's vice president of racing. The race leads to the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Marathon, a $500,000 race at 1 1/2 miles at Santa Anita on Oct. 25. A field of seven is entered in the Gallant Man.
Claimed in Florida for $62,500 in February 2007, Big Booster has also shown an affinity for Hollywood's Cushion Track. The son of Accelerator defeated Heatseeker in an allowance race a year ago, and followed that effort with a strong closing third in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I), beaten by three-quarters of a length.
Rafael Bejarano, who rode Big Booster for the first time in the San Juan Capistrano, will be aboard once again. Big Booster carries top weight of 119 pounds and breaks from post 2.
Among his rivals is Maryland shipper Jade’s Revenge, who won at the 13-furlong distance in his last start -- the Fort Harrod Handicap on Keeneland's Polytrack April 19 -- by 3 3/4 lengths. The 5-year-old Quiet American horse is not only the lone Gallant Man entrant to have won at that rarely-run distance, he's the only one who's tried it.
Trainer H. Graham Motion shipped Jade’s Revenge west from his training base at Fair Hill, Md.
“He’s always been a horse we thought would deal well with the distance; he took to it well at Keeneland, and we thought this would be a good spot for him,” said Alice Clapham, Motion's assistant. Jeremy Rose will fly in from Maryland to ride. Jade’s Revenge drew the rail and carries 118.
The Gallant Man will be the first 1 5/8-mile race run at Hollywood Park since Cushion Track was installed. Swaps set an American record of 2:38 1/5 for the distance on Hollywood's dirt track in 1956 when he carried 130 pounds under Bill Shoemaker.
Gallant Man Handicap (Race 8, 4:50 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 5/8 Miles (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Jade's Revenge (KY), 118, Jeremy Rose
2. Big Booster (KY), 119, Rafael Bejarano
3. Marsh Side (KY), 116, Brice Blanc
4. Tissy Fit (KY), 114, Joel Rosario
5. Super Strut (CA), 113, Joseph Talamo
6. Victorian Prince (IRE), 112, Richard Migliore
7. Top This and That (CA), 113, Alex O. Solis