Da Big Hoss loves the distance of the Belmont Gold Cup

June 11, 2016 02:03pm
Da Big Hoss Belmont Gold Cup 615 X 400
Photo: Mary Cage

Two miles is a distance not often seen in American racing, but despite the rarity of the occurance, Belmont Park's $300,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational drew a large field of twelve for the 3rd running of the marathon event. Taking to the marathon distance like a duck to water, turf route specialist Da Big Hoss easily dispatched of his 11 foes in course record time.

My Afleet and jockey Kendrick Carmouche cleared the field from the 9 post to go out and dictate the pace. Closely shadowed by Belisarius, Kaigun, and Twilight Eclipse, My Afleet set solid splits though the early running of the race. Opening up to about a 3 ½ length lead, the James Lawrence II trainee put up fractions of :24.91 for the opening quarter, :49.65 for the first half mile, and 1:39.83 for the mile.

Meanwhile, Florent Geroux had Da Big Hoss settled in at the back of the field. Saving ground in the two path, they only had 3 horses beat through the first 1 ½ mile. The back of the field was the place to be, however, as the grueling distance and solid pace began to tell on the leaders as the field hit the half mile pole.

Down the backstretch, Belisarius moved up and overtook a leg weary My Afleet to gain the lead as the field began to take closer order heading into the far turn. Kaigun and Twilight Eclipse also began to advance on the previous pacesetter and were vying for the lead with Belisarius as they hit the top of the stretch.

That tiring trio would not be able to hold on to the top spots, however, as both Da Big Hoss and Now We Can were charging down the center of the track. Da Big Hoss had the first jump and was finishing up best, closing from the back of the field to waltz right on by and edge away from the front-running flight with a sixteenth left to run. The 5-year old hit the wire 1 ½ lengths in front and shattered the previous 2 mile course record by 3 seconds while stopping the clock in 3:17.29 over the firm turf course.

Winning jockey Florent Geroux, who has been aboard Da Big Hoss in his previous 3 starts, stated that they received a perfect trip. “"It worked out good. There was plenty of speed in front of us and I was able to save ground most of the way and I just tipped him outside and from there he just took me there,” he stated. “He liked the distance. It looks like the longer the better. Who knows what his best distance is."

Now We Can, who was running sans race day medication, closed from second last to nab second. After briefly obtaining the lead, Twilight Eclipse, the only front runner to hit the board, had to settle for third, and Closing Bell ran on from twelfth and last to round out the superfecta.

Belisarius stayed on for fifth, and the order of finish was completed by Up With The Birds, Silver Lime, Biz The Nurse, Kaigun, My Afleet, Tobias, and last out hurdler Rum Tum Tugger.

Sent off as the 2-1 favorite, Da Big Hoss paid $6.40/$3.60/$2.90 across the board. Runner up Now We Can returned $4.40/$3.10 off odds of 7-2, and 9-1 shot Twilight Eclipse returned $4.50 for the show. The $2 exacta paid $43.20, the $2 trifecta returned $351.00, and the $2 superfecta was worth $1,570.00.

Winning trainer Mike Maker stated afterwards, "I thought we'd be a bit closer earlier, to be honest, but that's why I leg him [Florent] up and let him make the decisions. He made the right move at the right time. I think it was the distance [that made the difference today]. The horse was just crying out for more ground.”

Bred to run all day, Da Big Hoss is by Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid and out of the Touch Gold mare Lady Struck Gold. Broodmare sire Touch Gold is also a Belmont Stakes winner. Owners Skychai Racing continue to “strike gold” with their $50,000 claim. His victory today was his 10th in 19 career starts and boosted him to millionaire status with $1,023,936 in total purse earnings.

Looking ahead, trainer Mike Maker indicated the St. Ledger at Arlington Park could be Da Big Hoss's next start. The Breeders' Cup could be the year end goal, but Maker intends to take things one race at a time.



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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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