Better timing and a little more ground added up to a victory for Da Big Hoss on Wednesday.
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. gave the son of Lemon Drop Kid his cue a little earlier than he did in his previous race, and Da Big Hoss gobbled up the Mellon Turf Course stretch to win the mile-and-five-eighths $100,000 John’s Call at Saratoga Race Course.
It was actually the second straight win for Da Big Hoss, but he finished second to Global Strike at Saratoga on July 31 and was awarded the win through disqualification.
This time, Da Big Hoss didn’t need any help from the stewards, running in reserved down the backstretch before getting in gear when Ortiz asked him to prior to the eighth pole.
Global Strike led the field through slow early fractions and couldn’t keep up with Da Big Hoss when he made his move on the last turn. He fell back to fifth, as Holiday Star closed for second without threatening Da Big Hoss. He was two lengths back at the wire.
“Last time we waited a while to get clear in the stretch in the last quarter of a mile, and he was going, [but] he’s got a huge stride, you need to get him in the race a little earlier,” Ortiz said. “So I let him rate by the backside and then came out and gave him some ground. It worked out great.”
Da Big Hoss improved to 4-1-1 from six starts this year and 6-1-2 from 12 races in his career. He hasn’t finished out of the money in eight straight starts going back to last October.
“He’s a route turf horse. Always consistent, lightly raced, very attractive horse and everybody liked him,” said trainer Mike Maker, who saddled Da Big Hoss for the third time after he was claimed out of a race at Fair Grounds in March.
Retired jockey Richard Migliore and veteran turf writers Dave Grening, Karen M. Johnson and Jennie Rees will be panelists for “Talkin’ Travers — And All Things Racing,” a Travers Stakes preview event at 7 tonight at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.
Co-sponsored by the library and the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, the program in the H. Dutcher Community Room is free and open to the public.
Migliore rode 4,450 winners, including 362 stakes victories, between 1980 and 2010, when a serious spinal injury forced him to retire. He works as a racing analyst on the Jockey Club Tour on Fox series and has several roles at the New York Racing Association, including as a television analyst.
Grening covers New York racing and major national races for the Daily Racing Form.
Johnson is a freelance writer and author of “The Training Game,” a book that provided an inside look at several high-profile trainers in North America. She is a regular contributor to The Blood-Horse and Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, was recognized for her work as a producer with HRTV and is a former writer and editor for the Form.
Rees is the long-time award-winning turf writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal.
FUNNY CIDE HERE
Funny Cide, the popular New York-bred gelding who won the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness, will make an appearance for fans at the track today.
He’ll walk the paddock from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Golden Ticket, who dead-heated with Alpha for victory in the 2012 Travers, was retired last week.
His final race was a seventh in the Alydar at Saratoga on Aug. 9.
He retires with a record of 6-8-4 and $1,362,924 in purses from 33 starts. In 21 graded stakes, the Travers was his only victory.