Da Big Hoss reigns supreme in Kentucky Turf Cup once again

Profile Picture: James Scully

September 11th, 2016

Skychai Racing’s Da Big Hoss did not disappoint as the 1-2 favorite in Saturday’s $594,180 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), comfortably winning the 1 ½-mile turf affair at Kentucky Downs for the second straight year. Conditioned by Mike Maker and ridden by Florent Geroux, the 5-year-old horse extended his win streak to four while pocketing his seventh overall stakes tally.

Claimed for $50,000 in June 2015, the 5-year-old horse has developed into a top-class turf marathoner. The chestnut son of Lemon Drop Kid opened 2016 with an easy tally in the John B. Connally (G3) at Sam Houston and after sustaining his lone setback this season in a Gulfstream stakes, the well-traveled Da Big Hoss reeled off victories in the Elkhorn (G2) at Keeneland, Belmont Gold Cup and American St Leger (G3) at Arlington.

He’s bankrolled $1,551,696 from a 21-12-1-3 career mark.

“All I can say is he’s the second-best marathon horse in the United States (behind Flintshire),” Maker said. “Where I went to school, second is better than eighth.”

“I was happy to win this race on Da Big Hoss,” Geroux said. “I’ve been riding him all year long and got some big wins with him and he’s just a very unique horse to ride.  You need to ride confident but you also cannot give him to much to do and make things impossible to do, but of course at 1-9 (odds prior to post time) you expect to win. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. That’s how races go, if you’re 1-9 and win all the time it isn’t as fun.”

Da Big Hoss rallied from off the pace on the yielding turf, winning by 1 ¼ lengths over 18-1 runner-up Bullards Alley. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to 60-1 Rum Tum Tugger in third.

The final time was 2:35.08.

The Kentucky Turf Cup was the third of four stakes and a storm forced a lengthy delay before the first black-type event of the afternoon, the $390,000 More Than Ready Mile. Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Watchyourownrobber wasn’t bothered by the wait, rolling to a 4 ½-length score as the prohibitive even-money favorite over five rivals.

Julien Leparoux was up on the Maker-trained 4-year-old colt, who has now three straight stakes after taking Warrior Veterans at Indiana Downs and August 6 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup at Mountaineer in his last two. The Kentucky-bred son of Hard Spun improved his overall record to 16-7-3-2, with earnings of $566,173, when completing the mile in 1:38.94.

“He ran big. Watching the race, you just hope he handles it (the course). He shows up every time,” said Maker, who added the October 8 Shadwell Turf Mile (G1) at Keeneland will be next for the reformed claimer.

Leparoux, who took off his mounts earlier on the card, notched his first stakes victory since being sidelined by a wrist injury.

"I didn't want to ride that much coming right back,” the jockey said. “The wrist is good but I didn't want to do too much."

Lots o’ Lex tracked the pace before surging to a clear lead in midstretch and posted a one-length upset in the $144,855 One Dreamer. Overlooked at 12-1, the 5-year-old mare earned her first stakes win when completing a mile and 70 yards in 1:43.17. Channing Hill was up for trainer Gerald Aschinger.

A Kentucky-bred daughter of Kitalpha, Lot o’ Lex made her second start back from a lengthy layoff, missing nearly 10 lengths due to a bowed tendon. She improved upon a well-beaten 13th in the August 13 Beverly D. (G1) at Arlington and the dark bay has now earned $204,681 from a 16-6-2-2 career line for owner Lisa Lex.

“She likes the ground soft,” Lex said. “Sorry about the rain but it worked in our favor today. We love the jockey (Hill). He had a lot of confidence in her, so that made it easy.”

Geroux picked up his third win on the program, and second stakes triumph, when guiding Mississippi Delta to a 1 ¾-length decision in the $347,090 Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint. Owned by Jackpot Ranch and Mike Rutherford, the Mark Casse-trained 4-year-old filly picked up her third stakes victory but first since June 2015 when finishing 6 ½ furlongs in 1:18.79.

The 4-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway was forwardly-placed from the start as the 3-2 favorite and opened a clear lead in midstretch.

The Kentucky-bred miss has now earned $488,457 from a 13-5-2-1 line.

Kentucky Downs established a new handle record of $5.7 million, eclipsing the previous mark of $4.6 million from the September 3 opening-day card.

Da Big Hoss photo courtesy of Reed Palmer