Big Macher and Rafael Bejarano take the Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint.

Big Macher and Rafael Bejarano take the Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint.

Benoit Photo

Big Macher Runs Huge in Cal Cup Sprint Score

Former $20,000 claimer wins his stakes debut in six-furlong test at Santa Anita.

Big Macher, always traveling well in his stakes debut in the $125,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint, took command nearing the furlong mark and won comfortably Jan. 25 at Santa Anita Park (VIDEO).

On a day of huge upsets during the Sunshine Millions/California Cup stakes, Big Macher was sent off as the 2-1 second choice in the field of nine. The 4-year-old Cal-bred gelding by Beau Genius was helped out when 3-2 favorite Cyclometer broke poorly and weakened in the stretch.

Settled in second on the outside by Rafael Bejarano while tracking pacesetter Coach Bob, Big Macher wore down the leader in upper stretch and won under steady left-handed urging by 1 3/4 lengths. The 23-1 chance Coach Bob held on for second. Kate's Event ran on from last early for third in the six-furlong test timed in 1:08.62 on a fast track.

"I thought a few other horses were going to the lead today," said Bejarano. "Cyclometer didn't break well so I found my position, I followed the speed and my horse was flying at the end."

Taken for $20,000 in a maiden claiming race in his racing debut at Del Mar last July, Big Macher won for the third time in his past five starts for trainer Richard Baltas and owners Tom Mansor and Tachycardia Stables.

Bred by Ballena Vista Farm out of the Kris S. mare Insight, Big Macher was a a $10,000 purchase out of the 2011 Barretts October yearling sale. The bay came into the race off a runner-up finish in an allowance/optional claiming race Dec. 26.

"I think that's where he likes to be, up close, and he still can kick when he's up close," said Baltas. "He just came into the race real good and it was a great day. When I ran him (last time), I hooked Five Palms, one of (Bob) Baffert's good horses. I figured after he ran there, I was going to nominate him for the Cal Cup Sprint. I worked him real slow and asked Rafael to come out and work the horse. He was on the fence with Hollendorfer (Kate's Event) or me and after he worked the horse he said he would ride my horse. We got lucky."

Coach Bob, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, provided swift fractions of :21.95 and :44.62 before yielding to the winner in the stretch. He finished a half length better than Kate's Event.

Big Macher improved his record to 3-1-2 in eight starts with earnings of $146,428, and paid $6.20, $4.20, and $3.80. Coach Bob returned $14.20 and $13.80 while rounding out a $113 exacta. Kate's Event, with Victor Espinoza aboard, paid $8 to show.

Spirit Rules, Cyclometer, Luckarack, Mobilized, Follini, and Ourwestcoastghost completed the order of finish. Lakerville scratched.