ELMONT, NY – Team D Stable’s Big Handsome patiently stalked the pace before surging in the stretch to a comfortable 5 1/4-length victory in the fourth running of the $100,000 Paradise Creek for 3-year-olds on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Big Handsome stayed off of Derek’s Smile early fractions of :23.15 and :46.26 in the seven-horse field. Out of the turn, jockey Javier Castellano went three-wide to overtake Derek’s Smile and Mongo Nation, gaining separation in deep stretch while completing 7 furlongs on the Widener turf – listed as good – in 1:21.53.
“He broke on top, right behind the 7 horse (Mongo Nation),” Castellano said. “I kept track of the horses a little bit. I took my time. Turning for home, little by little, I tried to pick it up and tried to help him switch leads at the right time, the right place, and he gave it to me. He was impressive because, when I asked, he took off again. He’s got the ability to rate, and when you ask him, he’s got that quick acceleration. I think that’s awesome.”
Big Handsome posted his third consecutive win. Trainer Tony Dutrow said he was initially concerned about the distance with the Street Boss colt in his first race at 7/8 of a mile. Instead of following his previous tendency of running to the front, Big Handsome won as a stalker, drawing clear under a drive after receiving some encouragement near the 1/8 pole.
“I was so impressed with him,” Dutrow said. “I didn’t think I’d see that today. I have to be feeling very good about this horse’s future. I’m excited. Javier thought he would relax and stay off the pace like he did. I didn’t know, he’s been running so fast, but Javier was confident he would listen to him, and that went well.”
Off as the 3-5 favorite, Big Handsome increased his career earnings to $162,300. He improved to 3-1-1 in six career starts and has finished on the board in all four of his Belmont races.
“I had a great trip,” Castellano added. “Something told me to rate the horse. I saw those two on the inside, and my plan today was to see how far he can go. I wanted to test just a little bit how much farther he can go. If he rates, I think he’s going to get farther.”
Runner-up Kitten’s Cat finished in the money for the first time in four stakes races. The Joe Sharp trainee finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Small Bear in third.
Harlan’s Harmony, Have Another, Mongo Nation, and Derek’s Smile completed the order of finish.
Big Handsome returned $3.40, $2.40, and $2.20. Kitten’s Cat brought back $2.90 and $2.30, while Small Bear paid $4.50 to show.
One race earlier, Rubilinda, making her career debut for trainer Chad Brown, showed an impressive turn of foot with jockey Jose Ortiz, going last to first in a maiden special weight. With the win, Rubilinda became the first winner in the United States for her sire, Frankel, who was unbeaten in 14 European starts, 10 of which were Group 1.