(Jockey Brian Hernandez / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Fair Grounds’ Media Team:
As they say, in the end, it’s a line drive in the box score. Valene Farms LLC’s Big Time may have given her legion of backers some anxious moments off the far turn and in deep stretch, but under a relentless stretch drive, she reeled in Spirited Beauty and Winning Romance to win the $100,000 Louisiana Futurity for state-bred 2-year-old fillies by a half-length at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Sent off at .60-1, Big Time broke towards the back of the field-of-seven under Brian Hernandez, Jr. and immediately found herself over 4 lengths behind loose leader Halfglamorous over a sloppy and sealed main track that catered to speed all day. Halfglamorous set solid fractions of 22.12 and 46.66 and led the field by 2 lengths off the far turn. That’s when the complexion began to change. Hernandez was able to sift Big Time outside midstretch and take dead aim on the trio of leaders. That group now included not only a tiring Halfglamorous, but 20.80-1 Spirited Beauty, who had surged to a short lead, and a rallying 3-1 Winning Romance. The quartet raced in tandem for a few strides but late in the game it was clear Big Time’s class was going to prevail under a measured and confident ride.
Hernandez Jr. got to know Big Time in the locally run Louisiana Lassie on December 12, when she eased home a 3 ½-length winner in the mud. While matters weren’t as easy this time around, he knew what he had beneath him.
“She had to work for it today,” Hernandez said. “That’s the thing, she wants to win. She guts it out. She didn’t have the perfect conditions. She kind of got buried a little bit early on, took quite a bit of kickback and she wasn’t sure about it, but when I tipped her out turning for home, she did the rest. She just enjoys her job.”
Big Time has proven plenty precocious in her first year of racing for trainer Dallas Stewart. The daughter of Astrology beat open MSW foes by a head on debut at Churchill Downs at 38-1 in June but was a much more known commodity in the Lassie, when she settled early, came through on the inside entering the far turn, and powered clear late. Big Time is now 3-for-3, with $160,564 in earnings, with a flair for the dramatic.
“None of it’s easy,” Stewart said. “She showed up, she ran hard in the mud, she’s 3-for-3 and she knows how to win. We will see where we go from here. Hopefully bigger and better things. Brian (jockey Hernandez Jr.) did a great job and I’m very thankful to train for a man like (owner) Murray Valene.”