By Amy Owens —-
LEXINGTON, KY (Oct. 19, 2017) – Union Rags Racing’s Big Bend swept to the front at mid stretch with a powerful burst and then had more than enough left in the tank to hold off Nessy by three-quarters of a length and win the 23rd running of the $100,000 Sycamore (G3) for 3-year-olds and up before a Thursday afternoon crowd of 11,324.
Trained by Tom Proctor and ridden by Drayden Van Dyke, Big Bend covered the 1½ miles on a firm Keeneland turf course in 2:33.24. It was the first win in the race for Proctor and Van Dyke.
A 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Union Rags out of the Broad Brush mare Lenataresse, Big Bend became only the second 3-year-old to win the race, joining Mustanfar in 2004.
It was the second consecutive stakes victory for Big Bend and first graded stakes score. In his previous start, Big Bend had won the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 10 under Van Dyke.
Infinite Wisdom and Hardest Core led the field of 12 through early fractions of :25.95, :50.12, 1:15.52 and 1:41.66 as Van Dyke kept Big Bend in the clear while racing in midpack.
Turning for home, Flashy Chelsey assumed the lead, but Big Bend was right behind him and in the clear. The two raced as a team to mid-stretch where Big Bend opened up en route to victory.
The victory was worth $60,000 and increased Big Bend’s earnings to $327,510 with a record of 11-4-1-1. He is a graduate of Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale.
Big Bend returned $39, $13.80 and $8.20. Nessy, ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., returned $12 and $7.20 and finished 1¾ lengths in front of favored Canessar (FR) who paid $4.20 to show under Feargal Lynch.
It was another neck back to Flashy Chelsey in fourth with Tasit, Final Copy, Manitoulin, Some in Tieme (BRZ), defending champion Renown (GB), Majestic Pride, Hardest Core and Infinite Wisdom following in order.
Racing continues Friday with a 10-race program beginning at 1:05 p.m. ET that is headlined by the $150,000 Pin Oak Valley View (G3) for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Post time for the Pin Oak Valley View, the ninth race, is 5:30 p.m.
@BetKeeneland, Keeneland’s new Twitter handle that delivers real-time handicapping tips and tools to wagering fans, features a Handicapper of the Day series that benefits the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF). Keeneland is providing each Handicapper of the Day with a $200 bankroll to wager during the race day, with winnings going to support PDJF. Thursday’s guest handicapper, Samantha Siegel, accumulated winnings of $4,050.
Guest handicappers for the next three days are Jason Crowley of Lexington (Friday), Turf writer Dick Jerardi (Saturday) and Tom Law of the Saratoga Special (Saturday).
Quotes from the $100,000 Sycamore (G3)
Braxton Lynch (winning owner of Big Bend)
“He’s been a mile and a half before (when he won a July 13 allowance at Delaware Park). We just figured out this might be his distance. Drayden (Van Dyke) rode him excellently.
“First time against older horses, so we didn’t know what to expect. We’re very pleased.”
Drayden Van Dyke (winning rider)
“He doesn’t have to be on the lead to win, and he stepped it up today. He sat, relaxed and when he needed to run, he took off. What else can you ask for?”
Brian Hernandez Jr. (rider of runner-up Nessy)
“We had a great trip from the 12 hole. We followed the winner the whole way. I wish I wouldn’t have followed him the whole way – I wish I would have gotten by him but it didn’t work out. We were able to save ground on two of the three turns. We were five wide on the final turn but that kept us clear of the traffic. He had a clean, fair trip and he responded. We were second best today.”
Ian Wilkes (trainer of Nessy)
“We are very proud of him. He is getting better. No thoughts on where he will run next, but I definitely want to keep him at 1½ miles on the grass.”
For more than 80 years, the Keeneland Association has devoted itself to the health and vibrancy of the Thoroughbred industry. As the world’s largest Thoroughbred auction company, Keeneland conducts sales every January, September and November. Its sales graduates dominate racing across the globe at every level. In April and October, Keeneland offers some of the highest caliber and richest Thoroughbred racing in the world. In 2015, Keeneland hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Uniquely structured, Keeneland is a private, for-profit corporation that returns its earnings to the industry and the community in the form of higher purses, and it has donated millions of dollars in charitable contributions for education, research and health and human services throughout Central Kentucky. To learn more about Keeneland, visit Keeneland.com.