A crafty ride from jockey Joe Bravo set 10-1 longshot Bigger Picture up with dead aim on his first grade 1 victory July 1 in the United Nations Stakes at Monmouth Park, and the 6-year-old former claimer responded with a dazzling win in course-record time.
With only one horse beaten in the field of nine, as 7-5 favorite Beach Patrol and 5-2 second choice Itsinthepost set a quick tempo up front, Three Diamonds Farm's Bigger Picture found an easy stride in the 1 3/8-mile test off fractions of :23.31, :46.97, and 1:11.03, and was content with his rail-skimming trip through a 1:34.70 mile.
When the field turned for home, 13-time Monmouth leading rider Bravo shook up the Mike Maker trainee, dove through a gap on the rail where the infield chute joins the main track, and slipped up to fend off the outside closing progress of Can'thelpbelieving by a head. The final time on firm turf was 2:10.81, which bested the previous track record established in the 2009 United Nations by Presious Passion, who went the same distance in 2:10.97.
"We got really lucky," said Bravo, who picked up his fourth United Nations win, all earned in the past six years. "The plan was to run out of there and let him find himself, but they were really smoking early. I just didn't really want to get in the way of (the pacesetters).
"He's an old horse. He knows how to run. I definitely didn't expect to be that far back, but once he started running he was really rolling. He turned for home and he got up underneath me and was running so beautiful. It fell right in our lap."
Bravo's prior United Nations winners were Turbo Compressor (2012) and champion turf horse Big Blue Kitten (2013 and 2015).
A Badge of Silver gelding, Bigger Picture came fresh into the United Nations, his first start off an April 22 third in the Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes (G2T) won by Itsinthepost at Keeneland.
"Joe knows the place better than anyone, and hats off to him for riding a great race," Maker said. "I was getting a little concerned he wasn't going to get a hole, but Joe did everything right. They went at it pretty good up front and that worked to our advantage. The Arlington Million (G1T, Aug. 12) is a possibility, but we'll talk it over with the owner and make a decision. For now we'll sit back and enjoy this one."
Bigger Picture returned $23.40, $11.60, and $5.60, while Can'thelpbelieving paid $13.40 and $6.80. Beach Patrol held 1 3/4 lengths back in third ($3), and was followed home by Lucky Lindy, Itsinthepost, Closing Bell, Oscar Nominated, Liam the Charmer, and Messi.
Bred in Kentucky by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, out of the Honour and Glory mare Glory Dancer, Bigger Picture improved his record to 10-4-2 from 25 starts, with earnings of $831,135. He raced for his breeders through four starts before he was claimed in the summer of 2014, and had nine outings for various connections before Maker claimed him back again for $32,000 in November of 2015. He was boldly stepped up to a United Nations run last year in his stakes debut, but finished eighth. In late 2016 he picked up his first graded stakes score in the Red Smith Handicap (G3T), and in January he took the John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes (G3T).