POTRERO GRANDE STAKES | PURSE: $200,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS AND UP | GRADE 2 | 6.5 FURLONGS
Tom Mansor and Tachycardia Stables' Big Macher just missed by a half-length in the March 8 San Carlos at Santa Anita Park, and on Saturday refused to find himself in that position again when recording a game nose victory over 7-5 favorite Wild Dude in the Grade 2, $200,750 Potrero Grande.
Sent off the 2-1 second choice in the eight-horse field, Big Macher tracked in third outside of pacesetter Mongolian Saturday and Wine Police through swift fractions of :21 ⅘ seconds and :44 ⅕ seconds. It was four across as the trio rounded the turn, with Cyclometer ranging up on the far outside to challenge and get his head in front during the stretch run.
By this point Mongolian Saturday was falling back on the rail. Big Macher outdueled Cyclometer to take command nearing the sixteenth-pole but suddenly found Wild Dude closing fast down the center of the track. The favorite rallied from last and gave it his all, but just ran out of room late and was forced to settle for second as Big Macher completed 6 ½ furlongs on Santa Anita's fast dirt in 1:14 ⅘.
Big Macher paid $6.20 to his backers for the win with jockey Tyler Baze aboard.
"I had a beautiful trip. I didn't get too much pressure from the outside and I really just got the perfect trip. I got to do what I wanted out there and I got to keep him happy," Baze said. "I knew this horse was going to lay his body down and give me everything he had; he's an honest horse. I just rode this horse with confidence and knew he was going to give me 100 percent.
"I worked him last week and I have so much confidence in him. I got to work him before his last race actually and was going to ride him. I didn't get to ride him, there was a switch so I was so excited to ride him today because [of] the way he worked last week...it wasn't fast but it was phenomenal. He finished with a tremendous turn of foot the last eighth and galloped out another eighth in about :10 and change. He was so strong coming into [Saturday's] race and [trainer] Richard [Baltas] has just done such a great job. It just made for the perfect opportunity."
Wild Dude had 1 ¾ lengths to spare on 16-1 shot Cyclometer, who in turn was up 1 ½ lengths on Midnight Transfer. Wine Police came next and was followed under the wire by Zeewat, Crimson Giant and Mongolian Saturday.
"I had a good trip, I was tucked in behind the leaders. I thought I had it in the stretch," commented Wild Dude's rider, Rafael Bejarano. "I had the opportunity but the other horse (Big Macher) came back with something and beat me."
Big Macher was making just the third stakes start of his career and improved his record to 4-2-2 from 10 starts with $316,428 in earnings. The four-year-old son of Beau Genius began his career at Del Mar for Peter Miller, but was claimed out of his initial outing after finishing seventh. Taking up residence in Baltas' barn, Big Macher stayed in the maiden claiming ranks until breaking through with a first win three races later.
Following that 4 ¾-length score at Santa Anita last October the bay gelding added a 4 ½-length allowance victory to his resume at Hollywood Park. A third in another Hollywood allowance and a second in a Santa Anita optional claimer preceded a win in the California Cup Sprint in Big Macher's four-year-old, and stakes, bow on January 25. He led in the San Carlos stretch before just being passed by Grade 1 winner Sahara Sky strides before the wire last out.
"He's a horse that's getting better and better. I don't even know how to explain it. He's the type of horse who has the will to win," Baltas stated. "I don't take any credit for it. You do the right thing for the horse, and the horse really blessed me today. I'm so happy.
"Last time he ran [in the San Carlos], I don't even know if he saw that horse [Sahara Sky] coming on the outside. Tyler breezed him the other day and he didn't go real fast but he finished up in 11 and 3 [1:11 ⅗] and he told me, 'We're going to win today.' He was more confident in the horse than I was."
Bred in California by Ballena Vista Farm, Big Macher sold to Miller, acting as agent, for $10,000 at the 2011 Barretts October Yearling Sale. He is the first registered stakes winner out of the unraced Kris S. mare Insight, and comes from the same female family as Grade 1-scoring fillies Flip's Pleasure and Swap Fliparoo.