Big Booster Lumbers Home in Gallant Man

Big Booster Lumbers Home in Gallant Man
Photo: Benoit
Big Booster and Rafael Bejarano take the Gallant Man.
Odds-on choice Big Booster moved closer to a potential run at the inaugural Breeders' Cup Dirt Marathon this fall, lumbering to victory over three outmatched rivals in the first Gallant Man Handicap over 1 5/8 miles on the Hollywood Park Cushion Track June 1.

A winner at about 1 3/4 miles on grass in the grade II San Juan Capistrano at Santa Anita in his last start April 20, the Mike Mitchell trainee proved once again that he can handle any distance of ground. The 7-year-old Accelerator gelding overtook Jade's Revenge mid-stretch and won by two lengths, though he swerved outwardly leaving the sixteenth pole when unexpectedly hit left-handed by jockey Rafael Bejarano.

“He can go this far and he clowns around when he makes the lead but it was a good race," Mitchell said. "You can’t go by pace, you just have to let him run his race. I don’t care how slow they’re going, this is the way he wants to run so you just wait and wait and wait. I told Rafael that he’s braver if he’s on the outside; inside of horses he just doesn’t seem to be the same.

Mitchell said there will be additional distance races on synthetic tracks in Big Booster's future, although he could also return him to the turf.

"We’re trying to point him to that mile-and-a-half (in the Breeders' Cup)," he said.

Big Booster trailed the field for much of the journey as Victorian Prince set a glacier-like pace -- :26.02 for the opening quarter-mile, :51.62 for the half, and 1:17.29 for six furlongs -- hoping to have something left for the drive. Maryland shipper Jade's Revenge, who brought jockey Jeremy Rose with him, sat patiently in second before turning up the pressure a bit approaching the final turn. With three furlongs left to go, Jade's Revenge challenged for the lead and Big Booster wound up his big late kick after falling off the pace by about eight lengths.

Jade's Revenge got the advantage coming into the stretch but Victorian Prince continued to fight back along the inside. Big Booster, though, coming from the middle of the track, quickly cut into the lead and soon took over. After hitting the front, Big Booster got a crack of the whip from Bejarano to keep his mind on business, which he obviously did not appreciate. He finished with his tail swishing high in the air in a final time of 2:44.48.

"My horse loves to come from behind," Bejarano said. "I knew they were really going slow. At the half-mile pole, when I let him go, he was just galloping and making up ground on his own. When I hit him left-handed he did something funny, like kind of jumping. He didn't like it too much. I just rode him the rest of the way and he won easily."

Jade's Revenge nosed out the closing Tissy Fit and Joel Rosario for second. Victorian Prince faded to last. There were seven horses entered, but Marsh Side, Super Strut, and Top This and That scratched.

The versatile Big Booster picked up his 10th lifetime win in 44 starts. The victory in the $102,802 race was worth $62,949 and boosted his earnings to $701,382.

Claimed by Mitchell for $62,500 at Gulfstream Park in February and transferred to Southern California last spring, Big Booster posted third-place finishes in the Hollywood Gold Cup (gr. I) and Goodwood (gr. I) for the ownership team of Scott Anastasi, Wayne Anastasi, and Jim Ukegawa.

Bred in Kentucky by Thomas/Lakin/Kintz, Big Booster is out of the Topsider mare Waterside.

The winner carried top weight of 119 pounds and paid $3 and $2.10. Jade's Revenge, shipped west for the Gallant Man by trainer Graham Motion after a win at 13 furlongs in Keeneland's Fort Harrod on Polytrack April 19, returned $2.80. The $2 exacta paid $5.60. There was no show wagering.

(Chart, Equibase)

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