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Homeracing

Geroux believes Da Big Hoss can compete anywhere in the U.S.

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TwinSpires Staff

March 3rd, 2016

Edited Press Release

Jockey Florent Geroux believes that Da Big Hoss, winner of last September’s $600,000 Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) at Kentucky Downs, can compete with any horse in the country at 1 1/2 miles on turf.

The 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid comes into Saturday’s $200,000 Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream Park off a 4 3/4-length victory over Kaigun in Sam Houston Race Park’s $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3). 

“He has tons of stamina,” said Geroux, Kentucky Downs’ 2015 champion rider who ranks No. 2 in the country in stakes victories this year at 10, trailing only Javier Castellano’s 11, and No. 3 in overall purse earnings. “When you ask him to go late, he has another gear. At that distance, not many horses can. They get tired. But he keeps going.”

Da Big Hoss is campaigned by the Louisville-based Skychai Racing partnership headed by founder Dr. Harvey Diamond and Jim Shircliff, who claimed Da Big Hoss for $50,000 last June at Churchill Downs after discussing the horse while handicapping the races in the Turf Club bar.

"Harvey says, 'Do you like Da Big Hoss in the sixth?'" Shircliff recalled after Da Big Hoss won the Kentucky Turf Cup by two lengths over California invader Power Ped. "I said, 'I singled him in the Pick 3 and 4.' He goes, 'Let's go claim him.’"

Trainer Mike Maker agreed, and Skychai won a four-way “shake” to take possession of Da Big Hoss. Maker stretched Da Big Hoss out at Saratoga, and Skychai won their first three races with their new charge: a 1 3/8-mile allowance race, the $100,000 John’s Call at 1 5/8 miles and the 1 1/2-mile Kentucky Turf Cup. Skychai now is 4-for-6 with what is proving truly Da Big Hoss.

“The first start he ran so well, we thought, ‘We’ve got something here,’” Maker said. “Each start he’s gotten better and better.”

After finishing sixth by a combined 6 1/2 lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) at Keeneland -- “He’s a big, long-striding horse and you don’t want to get him stopped, and he got stopped once or twice,” Maker said -- Da Big Hoss closed 2014 with a third-place finish in Gulfstream Park’s W. L. McKnight (G3). While Geroux regularly worked and rode Da Big Hoss twice last year for his previous trainer, the January 30 Connally was the first time he rode the horse for Skychai (pronounced Sky-high).

Da Big Hoss will point for stakes in the 12-furlong range, with a major objective being a return to Franklin, Kentucky and the country’s only European-style turf course to shoot for a repeat in the Kentucky Turf Cup.

“There’s no doubt we’re going to do that,” Diamond said. “We point our turf horses for that meet because of the lucrative purses, good conditions of the grass course and we’re treated very well there. I love European racing and I really love racing in a venue where I feel we’re racing in that kind of situation -- you race around that beautiful course, up and down, hill and dale. We’ve had pretty good luck there. But even if our luck wasn’t good there, I’d come back there to race because it’s such a wonderful venue.”

Dr. Harvey Diamond talks with host John Engelhardt this Thursday at 8:15 p.m. (ET) on the Winning Ponies radio show, live-streaming and podcast at winningponies.com. For more information, contact Jennie Rees, Kentucky Downs’ director of publicity for live racing, at jennierees@kentuckydowns.com.

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