04/03/2016 6:58PM

Big John B finishes fast in Tokyo City Cup

Benoit & Associates
Big John B wins the Tokyo City Cup by 2 1/4 lengths under Rafael Bejarano.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Big John B is seldom in a hurry in the first mile of marathon races on dirt. In the last half-mile, the scenario can change rapidly.

Last July, Big John B closed from last of five to win the Grade 3 Cougar II Handicap at 1 1/2 miles on dirt at Del Mar. In Sunday’s $100,690 Tokyo City Cup at 1 1/2 miles on dirt at Santa Anita, Big John B did the same, closing from last of seven to win by a convincing 2 1/4 lengths.

Sent off favored, Big John B ($5) was timed in 2:28.79. The Grade 3 Tokyo City Cup was the fourth career stakes win for Big John B, who races for Michael House.

“He likes to find his own stride,” said trainer Phil D’Amato. “It was just a matter of whether he’d get out and show a big kick.”

Ridden by leading rider Rafael Bejarano, Big John B dropped to the back of the field shortly after the start. John’s Success, a 29-1 shot trained by D’Amato, had the early lead, closely followed  by Ike Walker and Lieutenant Colonel.

John’s Success led with a quarter-mile remaining, but was quickly challenged by Class Leader, who led with a furlong remaining. Big John B closed well on the outside to get within a half-length of Class Leader in the stretch and took the lead with more than sixteenth of a mile to the finish.

Class Leader, a 5-1 shot who finished sixth in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap on March 12, held second, 2 1/4 lengths in front of 10-1 Blingo, the winner of the Grade 2 San Antonio Stakes in 2014. Lieutenant Colonel faded to finish fourth, followed by John’s Success, China Girl Lover, and Ike Walker.

Big John B, a 7-year-old gelding by Hard Spun, has won 15 of 40 starts and earned $849,770. He was claimed for $50,000 by House at Keeneland in April 2014 and has since earned $605,765.

D’Amato said he would like to start Big John B in races at 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 miles on dirt or turf in coming months. One option in that category could be the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational at 1 1/2 miles on dirt at Belmont Park on June 11, the day of the Belmont Stakes.