Make It Big earned 10 qualifying points in the 2022 Kentucky Derby standings Friday night, winning the $401,200 Springboard Mile for 2-year-olds at Remington Park.
The top 2-year-old race of the Remington Park season provided the stage for the third win in a row to start the career of Make It Big, who has never raced on Lasix. Kentucky Derby points are awarded to horses only if they have not raced on the diuretic during the qualifying races. The other horse earning points in the Springboard was runner-up Osbourne, who gets four in the Derby standings. The third and fourth place finishers, Concept and Classic Moment, both from trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn, competed with Lasix on Friday night.
Rick Sacco, racing manager for Make it Big’s owner, Red Oak Stable in Ocala, Fla., was non-committal on where Make It Big’s first start as a 3-year-old will be in 2022, but the dark bay colt by Neolithic, out of the Congrats mare Ruby on My Mind, won his first two races at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. The $120,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders Sale Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in training has quickly earned his keep. He won $240,000 from the purse Friday and is now undefeated through three attempts with total earnings of $303,828.
“Yes, we will enjoy these Kentucky Derby points,” said Sacco, “but we will have to discuss where we send him next.”
Sarah Shaffer, trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr.’s assistant, was on hand for the victory, just having met the horse for the first time this week. She stables at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
“He has a personality and a half,” she said. “We expected the cold weather to sharpen him up here.”
Temperatures were brisk in the high 40s when seven horses broke from the gate for the Springboard. Make It Big was feeling his oats in the warmup. Jockey Jose Ortiz was putting everything he had to keep the colt in his skin before the race.
“We really wanted to get him warmed up,” said Shaffer. “He’s very smart. He knew what he was here for. Nice horse.”
Make It Big broke his maiden on Oct. 9 at Gulfstream, winning by 8-1/2 lengths at first asking. He then took down the $60,000 Ocala Stud Juvenile Sprint Stakes for Florida-breds at Gulfstream by 2-1/4 lengths on Oct. 30. Both of those wins came at seven furlongs and with jockey Edgard Zayas in the saddle. Friday night’s Springboard was his first trip around two turns.
“The horse was two-for-two with Edgard,” said Ortiz, who shipped in from the East Coast for the mount. “Unfortunately, Edgard couldn’t ride because he had to have surgery on his shoulder.”
Ortiz, the No. 4 rider in the country with his horses earning more than $24 million in 2021, wasn’t a bad substitute and he rode Make It Big to perfection. He took the winner’s circle photos with the garland of flowers wrapped around his shoulders from head to near his feet.
Ortiz let Make It Big settle in fifth down the backstretch and then asked for run at the top of the stretch. By that time the colt was rolling and he engaged Osbourne who took the lead before the field left the final turn. Make It Big battled neck and neck with Osbourne throughout the length of the stretch, gaining a half-length win at the finish.
Osbourne is trained by Ron Moquett of Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner fame, Whitmore. Osbourne, a 2-year-old gelded son of Tapiture, out of the Rock Hard Ten mare Planet Rock also has not raced on Lasix in three tries. He broke his maiden in his last start at Churchill Downs on Nov. 17 at seven furlongs. Julien Leparoux, his regular rider, fought gamely from the outside post position in the field of seven. He was three lengths ahead of third-place finisher Concept, winner of the $75,000 Kip Deville Stakes on Sept. 26 here.
The remaining order of finish in the Springboard was Classic Moment (4th), Rowdy Rascal (5th), Revenir (6th) and Bye Bye Bobby (7th).
Make It Big was sent off at 6-5 odds as the betting favorite and paid $4.60 to win, $3.40 to place and $2.60 to show. The winner cut into early fractions of :24.77 for the first quarter-mile, :49.22 for the half-mile, 1:14.94 for three-quarters of a mile and 1:27.86 for seven furlongs. His winning time at the mile was 1:41.23 over the fast main surface.
Make It Big is doing his best to put his young sire, Neolithic, on the map. That stallion went to stud in 2018 and Make It Big was foaled in 2019. Neolithic has some classic bloodlines, being a son of Harlan’s Holiday, and his stud fee might soar if this horse proves to be worthy on the Kentucky Derby trail. Neolithic’s stud fee for 2022 is $5,000 for a live foal. Harlan’s Holiday won $3.6 million in his racing career, including Grade 1 wins in the Florida Derby, the Blue Grass Stakes and the Donn Handicap.
Make It Big is easily Neolithic’s top earner among his progeny.