ARCADIA, Calif. (April 3, 2016)–With a realistic pace to run at, favored Big John B was able to overcome significant trouble around the final turn and charge to a 2 ¼ length win in Sunday’s marathon Grade III, $100,000 Tokyo City Cup under Rafael Bejarano. Trained by red-hot Phil D’Amato the venerable 7-year-old gelding covered a mile and one half on the main track in 2:28.79.
A dedicated deep closer, Big John B was a distant last as the seven-horse Tokyo City field went into the Club House turn and had to wait for room as he continued to hug the rail around the far turn. Approaching the quarter pole, Bejarano was able to split horses three wide and he easily overhauled Class Leader a sixteenth out and waltzed to his 15th victory from 40 career starts.
“I knew there would be only be two or three horses with speed and they tried to go slow, but my horse only has one style, he likes to come from behind,” said Bejarano. “I wasn’t panicking. I knew that I had a lot of horse, so I was comfortable.”
Owned by Michael House, “Big John” was off at 3-2 and paid $5.00, $3.40 and $2.60. With the winner’s share of $60,000, the Florida-bred son of Hard Spun increased his earnings to $849,770.
The Tokyo City marked D’Amato’s third consecutive win, as he also took races six and seven, thus enabling him to go up 35-32 over Doug O’Neill in Santa Anita’s Winter Meet trainer standings with just four days remaining.
“…I never entered this meet knowing I was going to make a run at the training title at all, believe me,” said D’Amato. “But I wouldn’t mind (winning) it now. It’s bringing my whole team together.”
As to the trip Big John B had behind fractions of 23.94, 48.01, 1:12.71, 1:38.05 and 2:03.33, D’Amato said, “To me, it was just a matter of whether he was going to get out or not around the turn. Once he finally got him in the clear, he showed him a big kick.”
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, Class Leader made an eye catching move around the far turn but tired late, finishing 2 ¼ lengths in front of Blingo. Off at 5-1, Class Leader paid $5.40 and $3.60.
Ridden by Alex Solis, Blingo, who was off at 10-1, outran second choice Lieutenant Colonel for third money and paid $5.00 to show.
Racing resumes at Santa Anita on Thursday, with first post time at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.