Saturday’s Grade 2 Penn Mile Headlines Many Weekend Wagering Opportunities

The following piece appeared in May 31. It previews one of this weekend’s highlights — -the Grade 2, $500,000 Penn Mile at Penn National, which will host their biggest card of the year on Saturday June 3rd. Seven stakes in all will be contested and there is an early post of time of 3:45 PM. Santa Anita also hosts a pair of Grade I stakes Saturday — the Beholder Mile (featuring ’16 Virginia-bred Horse of the Year Stellar Wind) and the Shoemaker Mile. Fans can wager the action at the two Richmond area Off Track Betting Centers, at Ponies & Pints downtown, and at Breakers Sports Grille on the west end.     

Owner George Krikorian is thrilled to have a talented homebred in Big Score, who also has shown an ability to handle travel—not a bad combination as a lucrative spring and summer season of turf races for 3-year-olds heats up.

Next on the agenda for the grade 3-winning Mr. Big   colt will be a start in the $500,000 Penn Mile Stakes (G2T) June 3 on the turf at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course.

“He’s just turned out to be a pretty special horse. We’re hoping he’s able to run well this week,” said Krikorian, who spent some time Wednesday afternoon checking on what looks to be good weather for the Grantville, Pa., area Saturday, as he plans to make his first trip to Penn National.

Big Score headlines the Grade 2 Penn Mile at Penn National. Photo courtesy of Keeneland.

Based in Southern California with trainer Tim Yakteen, Big Score opened the season with a half-length victory in the Transylvania Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T) April 7 at Keeneland before he deliverd another nice effort in the American Turf Stakes Presented by Ram Trucks (G2T) on the turf at Churchill Downs, where he surged between horses to claim third and earned a second straight graded placing.

Krikorian noted with this mile race coming up and other big turf races on the horizon this summer for 3-year-olds, it’s nice to know that Big Score can handle the challenges of travel.

“The last couple of times he’s made trips, Tim has been very happy with him. He doesn’t turn a hair. He just looks relaxed,” Krikorian said. “He looks around (and) takes it all in. He doesn’t get nervous.”

It’s also good to know that multiple Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano will be aboard for a third straight time. Beyond his four straight Eclipse Awards, Castellano has been especially effective at Penn National, where he boasts nine wins—all stakes—from just 17 starts, for a 53% strike rate. Castellano won the 2014 Penn Mile with Bobby’s Kitten  .

The strong start to 2017 for Big Score follows a juvenile season in which he won two of four starts, including the Zuma Beach Stakes, and finished fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T).

The final Virginia Derby held at Colonial Downs in 2013 featured the top three finishers in that year’s Penn Mile including third place finisher Jack Milton. Photo courtesy of Coady Photography.

While Big Score is the lone graded stakes winner in the expected field of 10 sophomores, the group features plenty of horses knocking on that door. There are four other stakes winners entered, as well as Transylvania runner-up Holiday Stone. Jim and Susan Hill’s Holiday Stone led at every call in the Transylvania and grudgingly gave way to Big Score in the final strides. The son of Harlan’s Holiday will try to bounce back from an eighth-place finish in the American Turf.

WINCZE HUGHES: Big Score Makes Huge Impression in Transylvania

Trainer Todd Pletcher will send out a pair of last-out stakes winners in Mathis Stable’s Bronson and Bonus Points. Bronson, a son of English Channel  , won a race named after his 2007 champion sire May 6 at Gulfstream Park. That marked just the second start on turf for Bronson, who finished second in an optional-claiming allowance race sprinting Dec. 30 at Gulfstream.

Pletcher also will send out Three Diamonds Farm’s Bonus Points, who rallied from sixth to win the Parx Derby May 6 at Parx Racing. Bonus Points, a son of Majestic Warrior, tried the Triple Crown trail, where he earned a runner-up finish in the Jerome Stakes (G3) and finished fifth in the Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G2). He has twice started on turf, where he earned a third-place finish in last year’s Awad Stakes at Belmont Park.

Other stakes winners entered Saturday include Cistron, who won the Northern Spur Stakes on dirt April 15 at Oaklawn Park and has a record of 2-1-2 from five turf starts; and Green Lantern Stables’ Frostmourne, who won last year’s Awad and enters off a runner-up finish in the Woodhaven Stakes April 22 on the turf at Aqueduct Racetrack, his seasonal debut for trainer Christophe Clement.

Garland Williamson’s homebred Time to Travel will make his grass debut for trainer Michael Matz. The son of Hard Spun   finished fourth in this year’s Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.

Rounding out the field is Shiraz, who has twice finished third in stakes races on turf; Mo Maverick, a two-time stakes placer; and Prize Fight, who enters off a third-place finish in a stakes race on grass.

Penn Mile S. (G2T)

Penn National Race Course, Saturday, June 03, 2017, Race 9
  • 1m
  • Turf
  • $500,000
  • 3 yo
  • 7:45 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
2 1Shiraz (NY) Kendrick Carmouche 116 Michael J. Maker 8/1
7 1ABonus Points (MD) John Bisono 118 Todd A. Pletcher 8/1
9 1XPrize Fight (FL)Keeneland Sales Graduate Kendrick Carmouche 116 Michael J. Maker 8/1
1 2Bronson (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Tyler Gaffalione 122 Todd A. Pletcher 4/1
3 3Time to Travel (ON) Edgar S. Prado 116 Michael R. Matz 8/1
4 4Cistron (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Paco Lopez 118 John W. Sadler 6/1
5 5Mo Maverick (NY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Feargal Lynch 116 George Weaver 8/1
6 6Holiday Stone (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Luis Saez 116 George Weaver 12/1
8 7Big Score (KY) Javier Castellano 122 Tim Yakteen 5/2
10 8Frostmourne (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Irad Ortiz, Jr. 122 Christophe Clement 3/1