08/22/2014 11:32AM

Big Macher pumped up for Pat O'Brien

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Benoit & Associates
Big Macher (above) will face Goldencents and Fed Biz in the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien on Sunday.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Big Macher did not walk off the racetrack after training Thursday morning at Del Mar. He stormed off, bounding with purpose toward trainer Richard Baltas’s stable.

“He’s feeling fresh and happy, and that’s a good sign,” Baltas said. “He’s usually a pretty mellow horse.”

Baltas needs Big Macher to show the same enthusiasm when the 4-year-old gelding faces arguably the toughest test of his career in Sunday’s $250,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes over seven furlongs at Del Mar. Big Macher showed an affinity for Del Mar’s Polytrack with a half-length win over Goldencents in the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes over six furlongs July 27.

 

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Goldencents is part of the field of eight in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien, and neither he nor Big Macher is likely to be favored. That role most likely will go to Fed Biz, who won the Grade 2 San Diego Handicap over 1 1/16 miles and is unbeaten in three starts on this track, including the 2013 Pat O’Brien Stakes.

Baltas said he chose the Bing Crosby as opposed to waiting for the Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 4 as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 1.

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“If I wait for the Santa Anita Sprint Championship, I have to wait two months and then come back in four weeks,” he said. “I can train up to the Breeders’ Cup if he comes out of this well.”

The Pat O’Brien is the ninth race on an 11-race program. The field includes Silentio, who was third in the BC Mile last November and has run only on turf in his 13-race career.

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KEY CONTENDERS

Big Macher (Last 3 Beyers: 101-101-98)

◗ Claimed for $20,000 from a maiden race in July 2013, Big Macher has won 5 of 11 starts and earned $496,428.

◗ Earlier this year, he won the California Cup Sprint over six furlongs and the Grade 2 Potrero Grande Stakes over 6 1/2 furlongs at Santa Anita.

◗ Big Macher, who will be ridden by Tyler Baze, may be the one to catch in the Pat O’Brien. In the Bing Crosby over six furlongs, Big Macher was within a half-length of the lead on the backstretch and won by a half-length over Goldencents.

“I don’t think the distance is a problem for him,” Baltas said. “Tyler said the horse likes the track. I think he’s better sitting right off of them.”

Fed Biz (Last 3 Beyers: 104-83-100)

◗ The San Diego was Fed Biz’s first start since a sixth-place finish behind Goldencents in the BC Dirt Mile at Santa Anita last November.

◗ Fed Biz led throughout the San Diego, pulling clear late to win by 5 1/4 lengths and record a career-high Beyer Speed Figure.

◗ Fed Biz breaks from post 2, which trainer Bob Baffert said is not ideal.

“I think he’s the best horse in the race, the way he’s training,” Baffert said. “The post will make it tough. He’ll have to maneuver out. I would have preferred an outside post.”

Goldencents (Last 3 Beyers: 100-110-97)

◗ Goldencents has made two starts this year, a second to Palace Malice in the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park on June 7 and a second in the Bing Crosby.

◗ Goldencents goes to stud in 2015.

“I think we’ll be tough,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “We only have a few races before he goes off.”