George Krikorian's homebred Big Score overcame his outside post position and rocketed to a scintillating 3 ¼ length victory under Flavien Prat in Monday's $100,000 Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita. Trained by Tim Yakteen, the Kentucky-bred colt by Mr. Big negotiated one mile on turf in 1:33.56 and stamped himself a leading candidate for the Grade I, $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at one mile here on Nov. 4.
“I don't think distance will be any concern,” said Yakteen. “I think he showed that he's not one dimensional today. He doesn't have to come from completely out of it (as he did in running second in the one mile Del Mar Juvenile Turf on Sept. 3). The pace was substantially faster today, the first part of the race and Flavien kept him a little closer, but it didn't seem to compromise his kick…I would love to participate in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.”
Breaking from post position 11 in a field of 12, Big Score broke alertly, folded over in mid-pack and was three wide around the Club House turn. Approaching the far turn, he accelerated nicely while still three-wide, made the lead three sixteenths from home and bounded clear like a horse who may relish added distance.
“Since he won first time out (going a mile on turf in a maiden special weight race on July 24), I've thought he was a good horse,” said Prat. “Last time, I was a little too far behind the rest of the field and had to wait a little bit to get through…Today, I took my time and put him right there, even though the pace was pretty fast. I wanted him right there and he always shows a good turn of foot. The Breeders' Cup is what we're looking for.”
Off at 9-2, Big Score paid $11.60, $4.80 and $3.80. With two wins from three starts, he picked up $60,000 for the win, boosting his earnings to $117,800.
Krikorian, who also owns Big Score's sire, Mr. Big, noted that his stallion, recently relocated from Kentucky to E.A. Ranches in Ramona, Calif., is showing good promise following his initial breeding season in the Golden State.
“These horses by Mr. Big are doing well. He's a son of Dynaformer, who stood in Kentucky for many years and has now passed away. He was bred to 39 mares this year and if he keeps going the way he is, he could be his best son at stud.”
Sonic Boom, who exited a six furlong turf maiden special weight win at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 15, finished gamely between horses for the place, prevailing by a half-length over Ventry Bay. Ridden by Brian Hernandez, Jr. Sonic Boom was off at 4-1 and paid $6.20 and $5.40.
Ventry Bay, who broke from post position 12 with David Flores, was forwardly placed throughout and was just out-finished for second money and had to settle for third, a nose in front of Harbour Master. Off at 12-1, Ventry Bay paid $7.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 21.89, 44.83, 1:09.43 and 1:21.69.
Live racing resumes at Santa Anita on Friday, with first post time at 1 p.m.
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