07/14/2012 8:00PM

Arlington Park: Ioya Bigtime upsets in Stars and Stripes

Four-Footed Fotos
Ioya Bigtime, with Jeffrey Sanchez riding, wraps up the Stars and Stripes.

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. – Ioya Bigtime has long hinted at having the ability to win a graded stakes race, but it took a long race to get him there.

Making his first start beyond 1 1/8 miles, Ioya Bigtime upset the 1 1/2-mile Stars and Stripes Stakes on Saturday at Arlington, winning the Grade 3, $150,000 turf race by 1 1/2 lengths over favored Musketier.

“My dad and I were talking,” said Chris Block, who trains Ioya Bigtime for the Team Block family partnership, “and we said, ‘Let’s give him a shot at a mile and a half and see what happens.’ ”

What happened was an $84 surprise, with pace-pressing Ioya Bigtime taking command from early leader Workin for Hops just less than one mile into the Stars and Stripes, opening a six-length lead at the stretch call, and holding clear a late run from game 10-year-old Musketier.

Team Block - who bred Ioya Bigtime, his dam, Ioya Two, and her dam, Ioya - also got a good performance out of Suntracer, who finished well to get third, a neck behind Musketier. Joinem was fourth, followed by Eagle Poise, Harrod’s Creek, Mystic, Free Fighter, Final Count, and Workin for Hops. Ioya Bigtime was timed in 2:28.44 for 1 1/2 miles on firm turf.

Ioya Bigtime, by Dynaformer, finished off his 2011 campaign with a promising second-place finish behind Wise Dan in the Fayette at Keeneland, but he had failed to finish third or better in five 2012 starts before his breakthrough on Saturday. Block credited jockey Jeffrey Sanchez, who was riding Ioya Bigtime for the third time Saturday, with helping bring the best out of the horse.

“He can be a tough horse to ride, but Jeffrey seems to have his number,” said Block.