Big Bend wins the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs

Big Bend wins the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs

Reed Palmer Photography/Kentucky Downs

Big Bend Speeds to Dueling Grounds Derby Victory

Union Rags colt dug in to put away a late challenge by Parlor.

With a furlong to run in the $350,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs Sept. 10, it appeared as if frontrunner Big Bend had momentum working against him.

Parlor was full of run under jockey Julien Leparoux and pulled alongside the pacesetter, but Union Rags Racing's Big Bend and jockey Drayden Van Dyke had more in reserve.

The Union Rags  colt trained by Tom Proctor took on the late challenge and pulled away late to win by three-quarters of a length and finished off the 1 5/16-mile test in 2:11.57 on firm turf.

"The only time I saw any other horses was when that horse came along next to me," Van Dyke said. "He was there for a few strides, and my horse stuck his head out for the rest of the way."

Parlor found himself last of eight, 6 1/4 lengths behind Big Bend, as the eventual winner ran a half-mile in :52.38. Parlor cut his margin behind the leader to 3 1/4 lengths through six furlongs in 1:16.51.

Capture the Glory took first run at Big Bend, when he pulled within a head of the leader at the mile mark, but tired harshly and ended up last at the wire.

"They gave (the lead) to us, his ears went up and that basically was the whole trip," Van Dyke said of the stakes score on his 23rd birthday. "I kind of coaxed him along, let him breathe. Turning for home, you know how that hill is. You really don't want to ask going up the hill. So once I got over that hill and started going down, I got to ask him and he really kicked in. And he stayed kicked in. He kept going. He really fought hard once that horse came next to him."

It was the first stakes win for Big Bend and it followed another frontrunning score at 1 1/2 miles on the Delaware Park turf July 13 in an  optional-claiming allowance. He broke his maiden in his fifth start—a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight on the turf at Tampa Bay Downs Feb. 17. He pushed his lifetime earnings from $57,020 to $267,510 with the Dueling Grounds Derby victory.

Bronson finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Parlor, and was followed by Holiday Bonus, Gorgeous Kitten, Hollow Point, Society Beau, and Capture the Glory.