Da Big Hoss faces challenge from overseas stayers in St. Leger

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 10th, 2016

Since being claimed for $50,000 nearly 14 months ago, Da Big Hoss has won six of nine starts and established himself as one of the country's premier long-distance turf performers. On Saturday, the Mike Maker-trained five-year-old will seek to add the $300,000 American St. Leger (G3), at Arlington over 1 11/16 miles, to his growing list of major wins.

With the exception of a brief hiccup in the Mac Diarmida (G2) in March, Da Big Hoss has been on his game all season, and thus should be a strong favorite to take the Leger. After defeating frequent rival Kaigun in the John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) at Sam Houston and the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland, Da Big Hoss made it three stakes wins on the year June 10 taking the $300,000 Belmont Gold Cup over two miles.

Other than Messi, who landed the Knickerbocker (G3) last fall and was most recently third in the Arlington H. (G3), Da Big Hoss' main challengers figure to come from the overseas contingent.

Sometime hurdler Clondaw Warrior, age nine, has raced on big stages before, taking the 2 1/2-mile Ascot Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2015 and finishing third in the Queen Alexandra Stakes at this year's Royal meeting over 2 11/16 miles. More impressively, he was a half-length second in last fall's Doncaster Cup (G2).

Wasir was a Group 3 winner at Hoppegarten, near Berlin, two starts back, and was simply outclassed inn the Gold Cup (G1) at Royal Ascot when last seen two months ago, while Billabong was Group 1-placed in both Italy and Qatar over the past 12 months.

Stars and Stripes (G3) runner-up O'Prado Ole figures to try and lead throughout, Group 3 veteran Montclair could improve in his second start off the claim for trainer Roger Brueggemann, and the Maker-trained Generous Kitten could arrive on the scene late for a share.

The $100,000 Pucker Up (G3), for three-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on the turf, concludes Saturday's 10-race program. Auntie Joy and Noble Beauty, who ran one-two in the Regret (G3) at Churchill Downs prior to finishing up the track in the Belmont Oaks (G1), renew their rivalry here.

Also in the cast is Regret third Try Your Luck, beaten favorite in the $103,000 TaWee at Indiana Grand behind multiple stakes winner Inconclusive.

(Jack Coady/Coady Photography)