Wins at 46-1
Mr. Big News made some big noise with his 46-1 upset in the $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes and has now earned an automatic berth to both the May 2 Arkansas Derby and the Preakness Stakes at an undetermined date.
Unhurried early on a track rated sloppy, Mr. Big News raced near the back of the 13-horse field under Gabriel Saez while Gold Street, who overcame post 13, grabbed the early lead through fractions of :22.07 for the quarter-mile and :45.47 for the half. The winner came wide into stretch and easily collared Taishan, who briefly took the lead, before holding off the late charging Farmington Road. Taishan, who was close to the pace throughout, held on for third. The winning time was 1:49.89 over a sloppy track.
Farmington Road and Taishan also receive automatic berths to the Arkansas Derby. Basin finished fourth and was followed by Shoplifted, Digital, Coach Bahe, Gold Street, Background, Something Natural, Thousand Words, Flap Jack and Sir Rick. Thousand Words, the 2-1 favorite, was fractious in the paddock and stumbled badly at the break.
Mr. Big News, by Giant’s Causeway, improved his record to 2-1-0 in six career starts and has now earned $167,053. The longshot returned $95.60, $24.80 and $10.80.
There is no live racing at Oaklawn Park on Sunday in observance of the Easter holiday. Live racing resumes Thursday with a 1:00 first post. The track will remain closed to fans on site.
The winner is owned by Chester Thomas' Allied Racing. Thomas is a resident of Madisonville, Ky. Mr. Big News was bred by Don Alberto Corporation and is by Giant's Causeway out of Unappeased (IRE), by Galileo. He was foaled on Jan. 29, 2017 in Kenucky.
Winning trainer Bret Calhoun, Mr. Big News: “He ran a great race. We’ve had a lot of confidence in this horse for a while. Kind of sick we didn’t get the opportunity to run in the Louisiana Derby. He loved the track, trained well there and I thought that suited him well. We didn’t know how it was going to work out today, with this different surface and everything, but he performed like we thought he would the last couple of months. I know he was a big long shot, but we’ve had quite a bit of confidence in him over the last couple of months. It was a great setup. It was very hot fractions and beneficial for us. Gabe worked out a good trip for that horse. It was a trip that’s maybe not the best trip for a lot of horses, but it was the best trip for him.”
Calhoun said Mr. Big News will return Sunday to Fair Grounds. A definitive decision about a start in the Arkansas Derby will be made later.
Winning jockey Gabriel Saez, Mr. Big News: “He warmed up good and was on the muscle. He didn’t break as sharp as I wanted, so I just let him be, let him get into his own rhythm. When he hit the backstretch, he started moving and I said ‘OK Buddy. Go on with it.’ I kept track of the leaders. When we got to the top of the stretch, I swung him out into the clear and he found a different gear. He got the job done. I’m really pleased with that.”
Jockey Martin Garcia, second on Farmington Road: “It was his first time with blinkers here, and I expected he’d have a little more speed, but no. When he broke, he broke clear. He doesn’t have any speed, so I’m trying to save ground as much as I could. I ducked in to the rail and at the 3/8ths, I found a way to go and followed the winner around and he just took off. It looks like my horse is going to be a good horse. A little more distance, and he’ll be better. Big time, he’ll be tough next time.”
Jockey Joel Rosario, third on Taishan: “He kind of got looking around for a little bit (in the stretch), but he tried. I think this is maybe only his fifth race, so he's learning. He looks like he has some talent."
On winning the Oaklawn Mile two races earlier with Tom’s d’Etat: “I got shut off in the first turn and I was back, but I always had confidence he would come running and then he did. He's a really nice horse. He hasn't run for a little while, so this was nice. I was a little concerned with this race, but he (trainer Al Stall) had him ready. I think he's been training brilliantly.”