Big Dollar Bill rallied from last to overtake three contenders from the outside in the stretch, outkicking 1-5 favorite Hardy Study to win the fourth running of the $100,000 Birdstone for 3-year-olds and up on Thursday at Saratoga Race Course.
Owned by Dennis Farkas and Cheryl and Brett Franklin, Big Dollar Bill handled the career-long distance of 1 3/4-miles, staying well off Carlino's early pace of a quarter-mile in 26.12 seconds, the half in 53.13 and three-quarters in 1:19.16. Under a patient ride from jockey Chris Landeros, Big Dollar Bill overcame a five-length deficit, making a big push four-wide out of the final turn.
Under Landeros' right-handed whip, Big Dollar Bill continued closing the gap from the outside, overtaking Hard Study and hitting the wire in 2:59.39 to win by one length over the 2017 Birdstone winner.
"I had a good trip. I thought he could handle the distance, so I wasn't too concerned with him going away from me down the backside," Landeros said. "It actually set up nicely. I kind of caught a breather with him, but that last quarter, he came running big time. I think he just got a little lost when he hit the front, that's why it felt like they were coming back to him, but he just kept going, he just hits the front and gets a little lost."
Off at 5-1, 4-year-old Big Dollar Bill won his first career stakes start in his second attempt. The Ian Wilkes trainee paid $12.60 on a $2 win wager and improved his career earnings to $210,226.
"He got the job done. I've always wanted to run him at these longer distances," Wilkes said. I felt with his style, he's a bit of grinding horse and has later gears that it would suit him at marathon distances. You just don't know until you try it, and thankfully, it worked out well today.
"Chris knows this horse so well," he added. "He rode him confidently and it showed. He never panicked early and when he made his winning move you could tell he was confident going to the wire and the horse moved well throughout."
Hard Study, trained by Todd Pletcher, was coming off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Brooklyn on June 9, Belmont Stakes Day, at Belmont Park. The 5-year-old son of Big Brown finished a nose ahead of Big Dollar Bill stablemate Archanova for second.
Carlino finished 1 ¾ lengths behind Archanova for last of four. You're to Blame was scratched.