With 7-5 favorite Beach Patrol and 5-2 second choice Itsinthepost indulging in a match race early, the two market leaders turned Saturday’s $300,000 United Nations (G1) into a perfect set-up for a closer. The 10-1 Bigger Picture took advantage, thanks to a dream trip beneath Joe Bravo. Never having to leave the rail, the Mike Maker charge rallied from the rear to deny 11-1 Can’thelpbelieving in course-record time at Monmouth Park.
Both Beach Patrol and Itsinthepost have tactical speed to call upon as needed, but few could have projected that they would be so intent on a costly duel. Acting as if they were one-dimensional front runners, the duo matched strides through testing fractions of :23.31, :46.97, 1:11.03, and 1:34.75 on the firm course. Meanwhile, Bravo had Bigger Picture anchored at the tail of the field in tandem with Liam the Charmer.
Can’thelpbelieving, nestled in midpack much of the way, peeled off the fence to accost the leaders turning into the stretch. That briefly appeared to be the winning move as he overtook Beach Patrol and Itsinthepost inside the final furlong.
For a few strides, Can’thelpbelieving was on the verge of giving trainer Graham Motion a poignant victory. Only four days previously, the Motion barn mourned the loss of retired turf stalwart Better Talk Now, a $4.3 million-earner whose major scores included the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) and the 2005 United Nations.
Bigger Picture had followed Can’thelpbelieving through on the inside, however, and when that rival tipped out, he immediately advanced. Further room opened up along the fence, and Bigger Picture didn’t have a straw in his path. Bursting through to join Can’thelpbelieving, he found another gear to parry his foe’s renewed thrust by a head.
By finishing 1 3/8 miles in 2:10.81, Bigger Picture eclipsed the old mark of 2:10.97 established by pacesetter extraordinaire Presious Passion in the 2009 United Nations. Also a chestnut gelding, he furnished $23.40 to win.
“The plan was to run out of there and let him find himself, but they were really smoking early,” said Bravo, who was winning his fourth UN after Turbo Compressor (2012) and Big Blue Kitten (2013, 2015). “He’s an old horse, he knows how to run. I definitely didn’t expect to be that far back, but once he started running he was really rolling.”
“Joe knows the place better than anyone,” Maker said, “and hats off to him for riding a great race. I was getting a little concerned he wasn’t going to get a hole, but Joe did everything right. They went at it pretty good up front and that worked to our advantage.”
Beach Patrol salvaged third in a photo from Lucky Lindy, Itsinthepost, and Closing Bell. Bigger Picture’s stablemate, Oscar Nominated, checked in further back in seventh, and Liam the Charmer and Messi completed the order of finish.
Bigger Picture was initially campaigned by his breeders, Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Trained by Maker then as well, he was claimed for $25,000 out of a third-place effort at Saratoga in 2014. He plied his trade at the claiming level for Linda Rice until Rudy Rodriguez haltered him the following year for $50,000, also at the Spa.
Later in 2015, Maker claimed him back for $32,000 at Aqueduct, this time on behalf of Three Diamonds Farm. Bigger Picture was freshened and returned in early 2016 with a pair of wins at Aqueduct and Belmont. He attempted a big class hike in last year’s United Nations, but wound up eighth behind World Approval.
A more gradual approach ensued, and he steadily progressed from a fourth in the Old Friends S. at Kentucky Downs, to a near-miss in Keeneland’s Sycamore (G3), and a first stakes victory in the Red Smith (G3) at Aqueduct. Bigger Picture rebounded from an eighth in the Claiming Crown Jewel to add another laurel in the John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3). Beaten all of a half-length when fourth in the Mac Diarmida (G2), he was last seen finishing third to Itsinthepost in the April 22 Elkhorn (G2).
Bigger Picture’s scorecard now stands at 25-10-4-2, $831,135, and the six-year-old may set his sights on the Arlington International Festival of Racing’s showpiece on August 12.
“The Arlington Million (G1) is a possibility, but we’ll talk it over with the owner and make a decision,” Maker said. “For now we’ll sit back and enjoy this one.”
The Kentucky-bred Bigger Picture is by Badge of Silver and out of the Honour and Glory mare Glory Dancer. Her previous two stakes performers were by the Ramseys’ Kitten’s Joy, Grade 1-placed stakes winner Gung Ho and stakes-placed Kitten’s Dancer. Bigger Picture’s second dam, Grade 2 turf victress Dancing All Night, is a full sister to millionaire Dancing Spree, versatile winner of both the Breeders’ Cup Sprint (G1) and Suburban (G1) in 1989. This is the superb Phipps family descending from Blitey, her tribe featuring champion Heavenly Prize, Finder’s Fee, and Furlough, to name a few.