DEL MAR, CA – Legacy Ranch’s Big Fish kicked into high gear in mid-stretch and crossed in front of a widespread school of runners to win Monday’s $100,000 Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes.
Breaking from post 5 under Victor Espinoza at 9/2 odds, Big Fish settled off the pace into a mid-pack stalking position while saving ground heading into the clubhouse turn.
The 3/1 favorite Get Her Number set an unpressured pace, posting open fractions of :24.00, :49.32, and 1:14.71. Espinoza tipped Big Fish out three-wide near the exit of the far turn and began gradually pulling up Get Her Number and Ambivalent.
Digging in deep, the David Hofmans trainee pulled ahead late, and despite lugging out some, he crossed 1 length the best in a final time of 1:38.21 for the mile-long firm turf route.
“I had a good trip,” Espinoza said. “The only problem I had was on the far turn, when I dropped my hands just a bit and he took off. He almost ran up on the heels of the horse in front of us, but I checked him and wheeled him out. He swerved just a bit in the stretch, but nothing big. You know the kind he is; if they make the lead they get lonely out there and they want to wait for other ones to come and play.”
Ebeko took second by a nose, a nose, and a neck over Ambivalent, Get Her Number, and Cotopaxi, respectively.
Rombauer, None Above the Law, C’Mon Jenna, Herd Immunity, and Inner Ghost completed the order of finish. Inner Beauty, Caisson, and Sonic Brees were scratched.
Big Fish’s win followed his maiden-breaking turf debut last time out over the local course and distance while facing fellow California-breds. The Mr. Big gelding improved his record to 4-2-1-1 with $109,000 earned.
“After his work the other day, I was confident,” Hofmans said. “I thought he was coming into this race peak perfect and we had planned for this race a long time ago. I absolutely thought he would do well on the turf. He’s bred for the turf and he showed in his last race he’s a different horse on the turf.”
Big Fish returned $11.40 to win, $6.20 to place, and $4.20 to show. Ebeko brought back $10 to place and $6.40 to show, while Ambivalent paid $4.40 to show.