Big Bambu withstood challenges early and late from Dat You Miz Blue to win the Honorable Miss Handicap (gr. III) Wednesday at Saratoga.
In just a four-horse field after the scratch of Shine Again, Big Bambu shot right out to the lead in the six-furlong dirt race. She was joined by Dat You Miz Blue.
After an opening quarter in : 22 1/5, John Velazquez took Dat You Miz Blue off the rail and in the turn, came outside of Big Bambu, who was ridden by Jerry Bailey. The half went in :45 1/5.
"I couldn't out-run Big Bambu, so I let her go," Velazquez said. "I figured we would get outside of her. We put a head in front in the stretch. I thought I had her, but my filly just didn't have enough to win today."
The two hooked up down the stretch, but Big Bambu proved too much. Country Hideaway came from off the pace and passed Dat You Miz Blue to get second. The final time was 1:09 3/5.
Big Bambu, a 4-year-old Salt Lake filly, was winning her fourth straight stakes. She finished second in last years grade I Test Stakes.
Owned by Edward Marshall and John Schoonover, the Kentucky-bred filly is trained by Alan Sobol.
"We were very happy with the race, obviously," Sobol said. "We hoped we would have a speed duel. Johnny (Velazquez, aboard Dat You Miz Blue) tried to put us where we had him. There have been a lot of situations where other horses have tried to run with us; fortunately, she runs away from them down the lane. I was confident when she broke. One time, she broke bad in the Gulfstream race when she had heat stroke.
"I just wanted to see her run her race," the trainer continued. "The graded stakes win is very significant. That was a major goal for us for the year. We're trying to give her tougher and tougher races to make sure she showed up today. One of the considerations I had riding Jerry (Bailey) was the he could tell me if the horse could get an extra eighth of a mile. That would help us decide her next start. We're going to take her back home to Thistledown, and go from there. The Breeders' Cup Sprint (October 27th at Belmont Park) is a possibility. I'm going to put a lot of stock in what Jerry has to say.
With no show wagering, Big Bambu paid $6 and $3.30. Country Hideaway returned $3. The exacta paid $16.