Big John B

Big John B

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John Henry: Big John B Must Prove Self Again

Overpowering winner of the Del Mar Handicap faces many of the same foes Sept. 28.

An overpowering 5 1/4-length winner of the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) last month, Big John B returns for the John Henry Turf Championship (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita Park Sept. 28 against many of the same horses he beat previously.

Six of those that were vanquished at Del Mar in Big John B's impressive display Aug. 23 return for the John Henry, a 1 1/4-mile grass test that attracted a field of 10 Sunday.

Michael House's Big John B, who drew the rail, has a four-race winning streak and has won his past three starts in Southern California by a combined 13 3/4 lengths for trainer Phil D'Amato while favored in all three. The late-running 5-year-old by Hard Spun  rallied from sixth in the Del Mar Handicap to win easily as the 8-5 choice while completing the 1 3/-8 mile journey in 2:12.81.

Mike Smith is back aboard the oft-claimed dark bay gelding, a lifetime winner of 11 of 28 starts and $458,805. Likely to get a ground-saving trip, Big John B packs co-high weight of 124 pounds.

Also in at 124 is Big Kick, who captured the San Juan Capistrano (gr. IIT) in front-running fashion by 2 3/4 lengths June 29 for trainer Michael Machowsky. In his only start since, the 5-year-old Tiznow  gelding was distanced in the American St. Leger Stakes after setting too quick a pace in the 1 11/16-mile race at Arlington International Race Course Aug. 16. Victor Espinoza will have the mount from post 7.

Finnegans Wake , making his first start for Peter Miller, exits the better race Aug. 16 in Illinois when fifth in the prestigious Arlington Million (gr. IT) at the John Henry distance. Based previously at Churchill Downs with trainer Dale Romans, the 5-year-old by Powerscourt has worked twice locally at San Luis Rey Downs, his most recent drill a five-furlong move in 1:01 2/5 Sept. 23.

A winner of the 1 1/4-mile Arlington Handicap (gr. IIIT) two starts back July 12, Finnegans Wake has a win, two seconds and a third from seven tries for Donegal Racing at the distance. Although he had come from well off the pace in most of his races, the lifetime earner of $635,375 sat a close second throughout in the Arlington Handicap and prevailed by a head. Joe Talamo will ride from the far outside post 10.

The also-rans coming out of the Del Mar Handicap are Bench Light (second), Bright Thought (third), Starspangled Heat (fourth), Unbridled Command (fifth), Poshsky (sixth), and Si Sage (seventh).

California-bred Bench Light rallied from off the pace to register an impressive 6 1/4-length allowance win going 1 3/8 miles on turf July 24. Claimed for $40,000 May 31, Bench Light rallied from far off the pace in the Del Mar Handicap and figures to employ the same strategy Sunday under Kent Desormeaux, who's ridden him in his last three races.

Bright Thought should be forwardly placed with new rider Tyler Baze up. Winless in his last seven starts, he'll be making his second start for D'Amato.

Completing the field is Irish Surf , returning to grass for trainer Dan Hendricks. The move follows a romping front-running win in the Cougar II Handicap (gr. II) and a fifth in the $1 million Pacific Classic (gr. I) on the Del Mar Polytrack.

Entries: John Henry Turf Championship S. (G2T)

Santa Anita Park, Sunday, September 28, 2014, Race 7

  • Grade IIT
  • 1 1/4m
  • Turf
  • $200,000
  • 3 yo's & up
  • 4:13 PM (local)
11Big John B (FL)Mike E. Smith124Philip D'Amato-
22Bench Light (CA)Kent J. Desormeaux119Shaun C. Morrow-
33Si Sage (FR)Brice Blanc119Darrell Vienna-
44Poshsky (CA)Edwin A. Maldonado119Peter Miller-
55Unbridled Command (NY)Tiago Josue Pereira119Peter Miller-
66Starspangled Heat (CA)Corey S. Nakatani119Barry Abrams-
77Big Kick (ON)Keeneland Sales GraduateVictor Espinoza124Michael Machowsky-
88Bright Thought (KY)Tyler Baze119Philip D'Amato-
99Irish Surf (KY)Elvis Trujillo119Dan L. Hendricks-
1010Finnegans Wake (KY)Joseph Talamo119Peter Miller-