07/01/2017 7:05PM

Bravo guides Bigger Picture to United Nations win

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Taylor Ejdys/EQUI-PHOTO
Bigger Picture paid $23.40 in winning the United Nations at Monmouth Park on Saturday.

OCEANPORT, N.J. - Nobody knows the Monmouth Park turf course better than Joe Bravo, who has won 13 local riding titles. On Saturday, he made a move to the inside in the stretch on Bigger Picture which may have been the decisive factor in him winning the Grade 1 United Nations for the fourth time in the last six years.

Bigger Picture hit the wire a head in front of Can'thelpbelieving, whom Bigger Picture followed to contention along the inside on the third and final turn.

The $300,000 United Nations is the richest career victory for Bigger Picture, a hard-knocking Badge of Silver gelding who trainer Mike Maker claimed at Aqueduct for $32,000 in the fall of 2015. Bigger Picture's final time for 1 3/8 miles on turf of 2:10.81 is a course record, lowering the mark of 2:10.97 set by Presious Passion in the 2009 United Nations. Bigger Picture paid $23.40.

The public bet the United Nations like it was a two-horse race between New York-based Beach Patrol and California shipper Itsinthepost, and when the gates opened they showed first from posts 1 and 2. But neither horse would relax and they went head and head while setting rapid splits for the distance.

With Beach Patrol and jockey Florent Geroux on the inside and Itsinthepost eyeballing him under Tyler Baze, the two reeled off fractions of 23.31, 46.97, 1:11.03, and 1:34.75. They continued to battle into the stretch, at which point Paco Lopez took Can'thelpbelieving to their outside.

When the leaders reached the point in midstretch where the infield chute joins the stretch and there is no rail, Bravo sent Bigger Picture inside horses. By the time the top four reached the point where the inner rail starts up again, it was clear the battle would come down to Can'thelpbelieving and Bigger Picture, who asserted himself in the final strides.

"They were smoking up front," said Bravo, who had Bigger Picture near the back of the pack for the first mile. "It was a little tight in the stretch, but horses float out when they cross the chute. When I sent him he really jumped under me."

Bravo previously has won the United Nations on Big Blue Kitten in 2013 and 2015, and on Turbo Compressor in 2012.

Beach Patrol finished third, 1 3/4 lengths behind Can'thelpbelieving and a head in front of fourth-place Lucky Lindy, who ran into some traffic trouble in the stretch. It was another neck back to Itsinthepost in fifth.

Bigger Picture, 6, had finished third, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in his prior start, the Grade 3 Elkhorn at Keeneland in April. That race was won by Itsinthepost.

Maker said Bigger Picture was sent to Bluewater Farm in Lexington, Ky., after the Elkhorn and freshened.

"He was really doing great for this race," Maker said. "We liked our chances."

As for Bigger Picture's next start, Maker said the principals of Three Diamond Farms, who own the horse, are currently out of the country but that the Arlington Million on Aug. 12 has "kind of been our goal this year."

Bigger Picture is now 10 for 25 in his career with earnings of $831,135. The United Nations is his third stakes win since being claimed. He won the Grade 3 John Connally at Sam Houston in January and the Grade 3 Red Smith at Aqueduct last November. He finished eighth in last year's United Nations to World Approval.