Bigger Picture perhaps needed a bigger nose the first time he ran at Keeneland. Last October, in the Sycamore (G3) over 1 1/2 miles, the Mike Maker-trained gelding just missed to Renown in a tight photo.
On Saturday, Bigger Picture will look to avenge that loss in Keeneland’s other major race for turf marathoners, the $250,000 Elkhorn (G2). He is one of four Maker trainees among the field of 11, the others being Taghleeb, Charming Kitten, and Roman Approval. Maker has won the Elkhorn twice, including last year’s edition with Da Big Hoss.
Victorious in the Red Smith H. (G3) and John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) following the Sycamore, Bigger Picture was most recently fourth by a half-length in the March 4 Mac Diarmida (G2) at Gulfstream. Jockey Jose Ortiz lost the whip at the top of the stretch, which might have been some difference in the tight outcome.
Of the other three from Maker, Taghleeb has better current form. Hero of the $100,000 H. Allen Jerkens and W.L. McKnight H. (G3) during the Gulfstream stand, he started this month with a fourth-place finish in the Pan American (G2). Charming Kitten won those same races during the 2015-16 Gulfstream meet, and was a close second in the 2015 Sycamore in his only prior start at Keeneland. Meanwhile, Roman Approval has the look of a pace factor on Saturday.
This contentious renewal of the Elkhorn has attracted California shipper Itsinthepost, last-out winner of than San Luis Rey (G2) after runner-up finishes in the San Gabriel (G3) and San Marcos (G2). Red Rifle, who captured the 2015 Bowling Green H. (G2) at Saratoga, comes in off a solid third against Gulfstream allowance company in his first outing in eight months.
Bullards Alley, who won the Louisville H. (G3) and placed in the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3) and Sycamore last season, should appreciate the step back up on trip after running shorter at Fair Grounds all winter. The wild card in the Elkhorn might by the Jimmy Toner-trained Interpol. A non-threatening sixth in the March 4 Canadian Turf (G3) in his first outing since October 2015, the son of English Channel upset both the Northern Dancer Turf (G1) and Sky Classic (G2) in the fall of that year when based at Woodbine with Sid Attard.