HOT SPRINGS, AR – Allied Racing Stable’s Mr. Big News was all the rage for those who took a shot on him at 46/1 when he won Saturday’s $200,000 Oaklawn Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Breaking from post 3 as the third-longest shot in the field of 13, Mr. Big News took back to the rear and spotted the leaders several lengths. Gold Street was pushed hard from the outermost gate and successfully cleared his inner foes safely to hold the lead along the rail heading into the clubhouse turn.
With Sir Rick and Flap Jack keeping close watch behind and outside of him, Gold Street posted opening fractions of :22.07, :45.47, and 1:10.92 as he led the field into the far turn. The 5/2 co-favorite Taishan soon overtook him as he rallied four-wide through the turn, and at the top of the stretch, he and jockey Joel Rosario looked like they might run off.
Shoplifted squeezed between Taishan and a weakening Gold Street to prevent Taishan from sliding over to the rail, but he was not the only threat. Mr. Big News came flying from near-last with a strong push in the stretch and brought Farmington Road with him.
The two shot to the lead inside the 1/16-mile marker, but Farmington Road shied away from jockey Martin Garcia’s right-handed encouragements, ducking in greenly in the late stages. Though Garcia was able to correct Farmington Road and get him to re-rally, he ran out of time.
Trained by Bret Calhoun, Mr. Big News crossed a 1/2-length in front while completing the 1 1/8-mile event in a final time of 1:49.89 over the sloppy (sealed) surface. Along with the $120,000 winner’s share of the purse, Mr. Big News was awarded an automatic berth in the Preakness Stakes (G1), the second leg of the Triple Crown.
“He warmed up good and was on the muscle,” Saez said. “He didn’t break as sharp as I wanted, so I just let him be, let him get into his own rhythm. When he hit the backstretch, he started moving and I said, ‘Okay, buddy, go on with it.’ I kept track of the leaders. When we got to the top of the stretch, I swung him out into the clear and he found a different gear. He got the job done. I’m really pleased with that.”
Through he seemingly grew leg-weary in the stretch, Taishan was able to hold third, 3 1/4 lengths behind the top pair. Along with Mr. Big News’ Preakness berth, the top three finishers received free entry into the local Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2.
Basin was fourth ahead of Shoplifted, who failed to sustain his bid off of the far turn. Digital, Coach Bahe, Gold Street, Background, Something Natural, Thousand Words, Flap Jack, and Sir Rick completed the order of finish.
Thousand Words, the other co-5/2 top choice, seemingly lost all chance at the start when, just mere steps out of the gate, his front legs splayed out and he nearly went to the ground. Jockey Joe Talamo maintained his balance and guided his steed back into contention, but he began fading steadily in the far turn and was not asked in the stretch.
Mr. Big News’ win was his second in three starts, having broken his maiden at Fair Grounds on January 20 before finishing fifth in the second Risen Star Stakes (G2) division. The 3-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, purchased for $95,000 as a yearling, has now earned $167,053 with a record of 6-2-1-0.
“He ran a great race,” Calhoun said. “We’ve had a lot of confidence in this horse for a while. Kind of sick we didn’t get the opportunity to run in the Louisiana Derby. He loved the track, trained well there, and I thought that suited him well.
“We didn’t know how it was going to work out today, with this different surface and everything, but he performed like we thought he would the last couple of months,” he said. “I know he was a big longshot, but we’ve had quite a bit of confidence in him over the last couple of months. It was a great setup. It was very hot fractions and beneficial for us. Gabe worked out a good trip for that horse. It was a trip that’s maybe not the best trip for a lot of horses, but it was the best trip for him.”
Mr. Big News returned $95.60 to win, $24.80 to place, and $10.80 to show. Farmington Road brought back $8 to place and $5.20 to show, while Taishan paid $3.40 to show.