ARCADIA, CA – Juan Garcia’s Big Runnuer struck the front end early and never relented in Friday’s $200,000 Eddie D Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita Park.

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Though 3/1 on the morning line, Big Runnuer was bet heavily at post time, eventually breaking from the far outside post 7 under Juan Hernandez as the 3/2 favorite.

Clearing everyone to his inside within the first 1/16 of a mile, Big Runnuer crossed over to the rail and set quick opening fractions of :21.96 and :43.98.

Straightening for home still with a lengthy advantage, the Victor Garcia trainee held safely to win by 1 length while completing the 5 1/2-furlong fast turf sprint in 1:01.15.

Credit: Ernie Belmonte

“I had never ridden him, so I asked (former rider Ruben Fuentes) what he knew about him,” Hernandez said. “He told me he was a very nice horse with natural speed.  It looked like we had some speed inside of us, so I thought we’d stay where we were and stay comfortable, but he broke sharp, and when we cleared them and got to the rail, it was over. I asked him to change leads and it was no problem. He’s a nice horse.”

Wildman Jack closed from off the pace to take second by 1 3/4 lengths over Grit and Curiosity, who usurped Sparky Ville for third by a neck.

Behind them came El Tigre TerribleGive Me the Lute, and Mr Vargas to complete the order of finish.

Big Runnuer’s win was his third straight, all over this course and distance, and improved his overall record to 7-4-1-2. The 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic horse did not debut until last October, but he’s already racked up 2 stakes scores (including the Siren Lure last time out) and $253,660 in earnings.

“He broke sharp (today); other times, he was a jump or a jump and a half slow, but this time, he broke sharp and he took the lead so easily,” said Garcia, whose father and owner Juan was a well-regarded trainer at Agua Caliente, just south of San Diego. “I saw the first fraction at 21 (seconds) and I said, ‘Well, he’s not going too fast.’ With the blinkers on, he is more focused on the race.”

Big Runnuer returned $5 to win, $3.20 to place, and $2.60 to show. Wildman Jack brought back $3.60 to place and $2.80 to show, while Grit and Curiosity paid $3.60 to show.