Former maiden claimer Big Macher became a grade I-winning sprinter when he denied 3-5 favorite Goldencents by half a length in the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes (gr. I) at Del Mar July 27 (VIDEO).
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Big Macher scored at 9-1 odds for owners Tachycardia Stables and Tom Mansor and trainer Richard Baltas, who recorded his first grade I training win.
The strapping California-bred son of Beau Genius was claimed for $20,000 out of his first start just over a year ago at Del Mar. Ballena Vista Farm bred the 4-year-old bay out of the unraced Kris S. mare Insight.
Big Macher completed the six-furlong distance in a solid 1:08.82 over the Polytrack. Goldencents, lacking room and forced to rally five wide in the stretch, settled for second in the Crosby for the second year in a row. Seeking the Sherif was third.
Baze said there were no pre-race instructions from Baltas because "he was all wound up in the paddock.
"I said: 'Richard I got this. Don't worry.' I have so much confidence in this horse. He's all racehorse with a huge, huge heart. I get on him in the mornings and I know how good he really is. They've found out he does well with time between his races. They gave him some time for this and he came back running. I had a beautiful trip today and I had the right horse."
The Bing Crosby is a Breeders' Cup Challenge race this year with the winner guaranteed a starting berth in the Turf Sprint (gr. I) this fall at Santa Anita Park. Big Macher, though, has never run on the turf.
Baltas brought Big Macher back from a quarter crack injury that kept him out of action for several weeks. The problem developed about a month after Big Macher scored his first graded stakes win by a nose in the Potrero Grande (gr. II) April 12 at Santa Anita.
"It's my dream...my dream," the 53-year-old Baltas said of the mileston victory. "The horse has been nothing but spectacular, getting better and better. He had a little setback (quarter crack) after his last race that really wasn't much. Tyler had more confidence in the horse than I did. You can't teach heart to a horse, he either has it or he doesn't. You just do the best you can do and hope the horse has the will to win. This horse does."
Big Macher, though, had been training forwardly for his return, including bullet moves of 1:12 2/5 for six furlongs at Santa Anita July 11 and a :59 2/5 five-furlong drill at Del Mar a week later.
Bettors could see only Goldencents in the field of seven sprinters, though he was cutting back to a distance at which he had never won. The Doug O'Neill trainee won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) last year and was coming off a game second to Palace Malice in the Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) at a mile June 7 at Belmont Park.
Big Macher broke with the leaders and raced prominently throughout as 3-year-old Pablo Del Monte tugged his way to the front, pushed hard by Indexical along the inside. Fractions were solid as the pacesetters fought through a :22.46 and :44.96 pace with Big Macher on their outside in third and Seeking the Sherif even farther out. Goldencents, meanwhile, stalked the leaders just off the inside rail for Rafael Bejarano.
Rounding the far turn, the first four were spread across the track, and Goldencents, unable to find a way through, suddenly angled widest of all in upper stretch. That move cost the favorite a couple of lengths as Big Macher took a narrow lead midstretch while reaching the furlong mark in :56.62. Goldencents made a valiant effort as they closed in on the wire, but Big Macher proved too tough under urging from Baze.
W C Racing's Goldencents, who won the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) last year in addition to his Breeders' Cup victory, was second by 1 1/2 lengths over Seeking the Sherif, making his stakes debut for trainer Ron Ellis. Indexical was fourth, followed by Kobe's Back , Pablo Del Monte, and Triple Bend (gr. I) winner Declassify, who trailed throughout.
Big Macher has won five of his past eight starts with two seconds and a third since graduating in his fourth start last October at the $40,000 claiming level at Santa Anita. His overall mark stands at 5-2-2 in 11 outings with earnings of $496,428. He won the California Cup Sprint Stakes in January, followed by a second in the San Carlos Stakes (gr. II) prior to taking the Potrero Grande.
He was originally a $10,000 purchase by trainer Peter Miller, agent, from consignor Sam Hendricks, agent, at the Barretts Equine Ltd. 2011 California Cup yearling sale. Miller trained him initially for Doubledown Stables. Brendan Bakir, who races in the name of Tachycardia Stables, claimed him out of his first race, a seventh-place finish.
Big Macher, carrying 121 pounds as the fourth choice, paid $21.20, $6.20, and $4.40. He keyed a $43.20 exacta with Goldencents, the 123-pound co-top weight who returned $2.40 and $2.20. Seeking the Sherif paid $4.20 to show.
Wine Police scratched.