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Saratoga and Del Mar 2017

Ron The Greek Wins Big Cap

It was all Ron The Greek in the Santa Anita Handicap, and another year of heartbreak for runner-up Setsuko.

The 5-year-old gelding by Full Mandate had shipped in from Aqueduct for trainer Bill Mott. Leading up to the Big Cap, Ron The Greek made a statement in his second-place finish to Mucho Macho Man in the Sunshine Millions Classic. He also won two listed stakes at Aqueduct late last year.

Ridden patiently by jockey Jose Lezcano, Ron The Greek settled mid-pack as pacesetters Ultimate Eagle and Gladding zipped to fast fractions of :22 and :44. Setsuko, second last year to Game on Dude, was in perfect stalking position, as well as Uh Oh Bango. Ron The Greek made a mid-race move along the backstretch to put him in contention.

As the field turned for home, Ultimate Eagle gave way and Ron The Greek swept past Setsuko, followed by Uh Oh Bango. At the wire, it was all Ron The Greek. The final time for the Big Cap was 2:00.41.
 
"At the half-mile pole, I had a lot of horse," Lezcano said, "but I had to keep asking my horse. My horse is like a bicycle, you keep asking and he will keep running." 

Ron The Greek is owned by Jack T. Hammer, a longtime racing participant. It was Hammer's first Grade 1 win.
 
"There was a lot of speed in the race," said Rudolphe Brisset, who saddled Ron the Greek in Mott's absence. "We just wanted to stalk the pace and see what happens. We were not expecting 44 on the lead. That's sprinting." 

Bob Baffert's Prayer For Relief looked to be making a move on the backstretch when he appeared to take a bad step. However, the horse finished the race and didn't appear injured afterwards.

Trainer Julio Canani's Holladay Road was the only horse on the only live Pick-Six ticket going into the Big Cap; he finished fourth.

 

 

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