Union Rags Racing LLC’s Big Bend was sent off the 7-1 fifth choice in the $350,000 Dueling Grounds Derby but turned back 2-1 favorite Parlor to give jockey Drayden Van Dyke an excellent 23rd birthday present at Kentucky Downs on Sunday.
Big Bend grabbed command from the start and never looked back en route to finishing 1 5/16 miles in 2:11.57. The bay son of Union Rags paid $17.20 for earning his first stakes win in just his second try.
“First time I’d ridden this horse. (Trainer) Tom Proctor said there’s really no speed,” Van Dyke said. “The 11 horse (Capture the Glory) was the only one who had speed. They gave it to us, his ears went up and that basically was the whole trip.
“I kind of coaxed him along, let him breathe. Turning for home, you know how that hill is, you really don’t want to ask going up the hill. So once I got over that hill and started going down, I got to ask him and he really kicked in. And he stayed kicked in. He kept going. He really fought hard once that horse came next to him.
“The only time I saw any other horses was when that horse came along next to me. He was there for a few strides, and my horse stuck his head out for the rest of the way. Proctor said, ‘If he breaks running, get an easy lead, that’s a plus for us. If one of them gets stupid, just either sit behind or get outside and just track them.’”
Parlor fought jockey Julien Leparoux while running in the back of the field before being let loose after angling six wide on the far turn. The Grade 3-placed winner dueled with Big Bend before giving way to be second, three parts of a length behind the winner and 1 1/4 lengths in front of Bronson.
“Big race,” said Parlor’s trainer, Eddie Kenneally. “Julien told me maybe the distance was a little bit far for him. I didn’t realize he actually put his head in front at the eighth-pole. But he said the last sixteenth of a mile he just kind of evened out and couldn’t actually go by the leader. So he ran a good race. No excuses. The winner ran a good race.”
Holiday Bonus, Gorgeous Kitten, Hollow Point, Society Beau and Capture the Glory completed the order under the wire.
Big Bend is now 10-3-1-1, $267,510 in his career for trainer Tom Proctor. The sophomore entered this spot off a four-length wire job against allowance/optional claimers at Delaware Park on July 13. He finished seventh while making his stakes debut in the March 11 Columbia Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Bred in Kentucky by Daniel J. Burke and Kathleen Schweizer, Big Bend is out of the stakes-winning Broad Brush mare Lenatareese, making him a half-brother to Grade 3-placed stakes scorer Miss Chatelaine and last year’s Dueling Grounds Oaks heroine, Taralena. His fourth dam is multiple Canadian champion Northernette, a full sister to English and Irish champion Storm Bird, who sired Storm Cat and Summer Squall just to name two.