SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – Dennis Farkas, Brett Franklin, and Cheryl Franklin’s Big Dollar Bill put forth a game stretch run for his first career stakes score and pull the upset in Thursday’s $100,000 Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga.
Breaking from the outside in the scratch-shortened field of four, Big Dollar Bill was content to ride leisurely in the rear while Carlino and Archanova ran side-by-side through opening splits of :26.12, :53.13, 1:19.16, and 1:44.82 for the opening mile. The pace began quickening as the field hit the backstretch for the second time, and Big Dollar Bill let the two leaders run themselves out along with the 1-5 favorite Hard Study, still sitting at least 6 lengths behind them. After launching his bid entering the far turn, in a flash, Big Dollar Bill was suddenly four-wide and at least a nose in front of the field. Continuing to run strongly down the stretch, Big Dollar Bill had to fight off the stubborn favorite but still hit the line with a length advantage in a final time of 2:59.39 for the 1 3/4-mile main track marathon.
“I had a good trip,” Landeros said. “I thought he could handle the distance, so I wasn’t too concerned with him going away from me down the backside. It actually set up nicely. I kind of caught a breather with him, but that last 1/4 (mile), he came running big-time. I think he just got a little lost when he hit the front, that’s why it felt like they were coming back to him, but he just kept going, he just hits the front and gets a little lost.”
Hard Study nearly lost second in the final jumps, managing to nose out Archanova for that placing, while Carlino faded in the stretch and completed the order of finish. You’re to Blame was the aforementioned scratch.
Big Dollar Bill’s win was his first since a sweeping win at 1 1/16 miles over the Keeneland main surface this past April for trainer Ian Wilkes. The 4-year-old gelded son of Midnight Lute now carries a record of 14-3-5-2 with earnings of $210,226.
“He got the job done,” Wilkes said. “I’ve always wanted to run him at these longer distances. I felt with his style, he’s a bit of grinding horse and has later gears, that it would suit him at marathon distances. You just don’t know until you try it, and thankfully, it worked out well today.”
Big Dollar Bill returned $12.60 to win and $2.90 to place, while Hard Study paid $2.10 to place. There was no show betting.