Bigger Picture picked up his first graded victory and held off accomplished rivals to get the job done Nov. 12 at Aqueduct Racetrack, winning the $200,000 Red Smith Handicap (gr. IIIT) over Danish Dynaformer and Wake Forest.
Video: Red Smith H. (G3T)
Running for Three Diamonds Farm and trainer Mike Maker, the 5-year-old Badge of Silver gelding closed from sixth early on and inched away to a 1 1/4-length score in a final time of 2:15.46 for the 1 3/8-mile test on firm turf. He came into the race off a runner-up finish by a nose in the Oct. 20 Sycamore Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland.
"I felt if I made a move I could get in a good position on the turn," said winning rider Jose Ortiz. "I just felt like doing it and it worked out perfectly. They went slow, but I could've stayed back, because my horse was very relaxed. I made him go a little bit and got great position on the turn."
I'll Call set an easy tempo in the Red Smith, putting up fractions of :25.14, :49.80, 1:15.18, and 1:39.39 through a mile before fading to seventh in a field of 11. Bigger Picture took over with a three-wide move and had enough to foil the closing bids of Danish Dynaformer, who rallied from 10th with good energy, and grade I winner Wake Forest, who willingly closed in upper stretch after swinging for home five wide.
"I knew Johnny (Velasquez, aboard Danish Dynaformer) was coming from the outside, but we entered the stretch and I let him go, and he responded," Ortiz said. "He's a very game horse. When he felt (Danish Dynaformer) coming toward him he flicked his ears and tried to kick on."
Bigger Picture, off at odds of 9-1, paid $21.40 on a $2 win wager and has finished in the money in six of his last eight starts.
Following the top three home were Arties Silver Mine, Up With the Birds, Messi, I'll Call, Tale of Fancy, Biz The Nurse, Smooth Daddy, and Rum Tum Tugger. Tommy Macho, a main-track only entry, was scratched.
Bred in Kentucky by Ken and Sarah Ramsey out of the winning Honour and Glory mare Glory Dancer, Bigger Picture began his career racing for his breeders and Maker, but changed hands multiple times in the claiming ranks. He was obtained by Maker again for Three Diamonds in November of 2015 for $32,000, and returned from a layoff to win back-to-back races this spring. Since returning to Maker he has won four of his seven starts. He has an overall 8-4-1 record from 20 races for earnings of $464,735.
The Red Smith was named in honor of the 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner for distinguished commentary. Smith, a sports columnist, covered many events, including horseracing, in a 55-year career, writing for publications such as the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times.