Big Score (Mr. Big) wins the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland on 4.7.2017. Javier Castellano up, Tim Yakteen trainer, George Krikorian owner.
George Krikorian’s homebred Big Score gave his owner just that on Friday afternoon at Keeneland, closing down the lane to win the G3 Transylvania Stakes by a half-length on the wire. The sophomore son of Mr. Big, well-ridden by Javier Castellano, earned his first graded stakes victory by covering 1 1/16 miles on a turf course rated “good” in 1:43.23 for trainer Tim Yakteen.
“We were expecting a strong effort, but until you run you never know,” said Yakteen. “He’s a good horse. I’m really happy for (breeder and owner) George (Krikorian). He stands (Big Score’s sire) Mr. Big, and this is a big start for him.”
Profiteer jumped very well from the inside gate, but was overtaken by Holiday Stone as Luis Saez urged that colt forward for the lead. Holiday Stone grabbed a one-length advantage over Sonic Boom in second and Oscar Performance in third along the rail, covering the early fractions in :23.92 and :48.48. Cowboy Culture was along the outside in fourth, with Big Score tucked neatly in behind horses just two paths off the rail. Approaching the far turn, the field began to compress, but the order did not really change until nearly the head of the lane.
Holiday Stone still held the lead, despite angling wide and leaving room for Oscar Performance to shoot up the rail if he was able. The move forced Sonic Boom a bit wide, and as Castellano attempted to come up the inside of Sonic Boom after changing leads, Sonic Boom very nearly impeded the progress of Big Score. Julien Leparoux was able to straighten out Sonic Boom, giving Castellano a clear shot at the leader with a sixteenth of a mile to run and 1 1/2 lengths to make up. Riding low in the saddle and using his body as a perfect ballast, Castellano drove Big Score to the lead just as the pair were crossing under the wire. In the photo, it was Big Score (10-1) in front by a half length, with Holiday Stone (34-1) relegated to second. Makarios (38-1) came from dead last with a very strong late rally to nab third over Ticonderoga (2-1). Heavy favorite Oscar Performance faded to fifth.
“I had a wonderful trip,” Castellano said. “I really like the way he did it today – very relaxed, very comfortable, good rhythm all the way through the race. I kept track of the pace. The way he did it (winning from off the pace) was phenomenal. I give all the credit to Tim and the owner (George Krikorian) and the wonderful fans here at Keeneland. Nothing better than to win the Transylvania on opening day of the meet.”
Bred in Kentucky, Big Score is out of the Unusual Heat mare Not Unusual, a three-time winner from 17 starts. The colt broke his maiden at first asking at Del Mar, then finished second to Bowies Hero by a length after rating very far back early. Next out, Big Score won the Zuma Beach Stakes over the Santa Anita lawn, but finished a slightly disappointing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, behind Oscar Performance. Overall, Big Score boasts three wins from five starts, with earnings of nearly $ 240,000.
“We’re going to look at Churchill (Downs and the $ 300,000 American Turf-G2 on May 6) most likely next,” Yakteen said. “First we’re going to digest this and then come up with our next move.”
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