HOUSTON, TX – Three Diamonds Farm’s Bigger Picture‘s win was thrice as nice on Sunday when the millionaire veteran made it three straight scores in the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park.
Breaking from post 4 under Jose Ortiz as the 3/5 favorite, Bigger Picture settled well off the pace early while Lawless West and Markitoff dueled through initial fractions of :24.04, :51.10, 1:16.83, and 1:43.79. Rallying three-wide in the far turn, Ortiz put Bigger Picture to a long, steady drive that lasted the entire stretch and saw him overtake the leaders with ease before clearing away late. The Mike Maker trainee hit the wire in a final time of 2:30.60 for the 1 1/2-mile event over the firm turf course, winning by 3 1/2 lengths.
“I did not want him pressured early,” Ortiz said. “He was comfortable laying off the pace and once I got him into a rhythm, he was moving well, every step of the way. Great job by Mike. I am always happy to ride this horse.”
Zapperini came gaining late to take second over Some in Tieme, while the winner’s stablemate Markitoff tired in the stretch to finish fourth. Budro Talking finished fifth after riding in that position for much of the race, while Net Gain took sixth. Cooptado and a spent Lawless West finished over 38 lengths behind Bigger Picture to complete the order of finish. Team Colors stumbled in the far turn and was pulled up before being vanned back to the stables. At the time of publication, there were no updates available.
Bigger Picture’s win was his first since the 2018 edition and improved his overall record to 38-12-7-5, including five in graded stakes. The 8-year-old gelded son of Badge of Silver, who Maker claimed for $32,000 on November 7, 2015, has now bankrolled $1,494,135 in his career.
“He’s a barn favorite,” Maker said. “He hadn’t won a race since this race last year, but he showed up and danced a lot of dances with the best in his division. We had this same plan last year; sent him to the farm for a couple of weeks and brought him back in, pointed for this race.”
Bigger Picture returned $3.40 to win, $2.60 to place, and $2.10 to show. Zapperini brought back $11 to place and $5.60 to show, while Some in Tieme paid $4.40 to show.