Maker hoping to send a pair
Bigger Picture is set to start in the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf on Nov. 4 at Del Mar after a 10-week break. Oscar Nominated may start in the BC Turf after a break of less than three weeks.
The two horses may be on different schedules, but trainer Mike Maker hopes to have both runners in the richest turf race in the United States, depending on Oscar Nominated’s performance in the Grade 1 Canadian International on Sunday at Woodbine.
“Hopefully, Monday I’ll have an answer,” he said.
Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Oscar Nominated won the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 9, his only win in seven starts this year, all in graded stakes. The $800,000 Canadian International will be Oscar Nominated’s first start in a Grade 1 since an eighth in the Arlington Million on Aug. 12.
Bigger Picture, a 6-yearold gelding owned by Three Diamonds Farm, was third in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 26 in his latest start. Maker said he skipped the last round of stakes preps in late September and early October with Bigger Picture by design.
“He’s on top of his game,” Maker said. “We’ve had a lot of success running fresh.”
The evidence was on display July 1 when Bigger Picture won the Grade 1 United Nations Stakes at 1 3/8 miles on turf at Monmouth Park in his first start since a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland in April.
After the U.N. Stakes, Bigger Picture was second by a neck in the Grade 2 Bowling Green Stakes on July 29 at Saratoga before the half-length defeat to BC Turf candidate Sadler’s Joy in the $1 million Sword Dancer Stakes. Bigger Picture led in the final furlong and was beaten a nose for second.
“He was unlucky to lose the Sword Dancer,” Maker said.
Bigger Picture was claimed for $32,000 in November 2015. Since then, he has won 6 of 14 starts and earned $818,550.
Last Saturday, Bigger Picture breezed five furlongs in 59 seconds at the Churchill Downs training center. Maker said the strong work was a pleasant surprise.
“After his work – and he’s generally a mediocre work horse – he’s got me pretty high on him,” Maker said.
Maker’s pair are among the leading domestic hopes for the BC Turf, along with Beach Patrol and Fanciful Angel, the first two finishers in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic on Sept. 30 at Belmont Park.
Maker, 49, is a fixture on the Kentucky circuit and has won two races from 19 starters in Breeders’ Cup races. Furthest Land won the 2009 BC Dirt Mile at Santa Anita, Maker’s first win in a Grade 1.
Maker has had four runners in the BC Turf, with a sixthplace finish by Da Big Hoss in 2015 the best result. Next month, he could be bound for California with two more hopefuls.