06/10/2016 5:53PM

Da Big Hoss keeps on going to win Belmont Gold Cup

Emily Shields
Da Big Hoss, with Florent Geroux aboard, wins the Belmont Gold Cup by 1 1/2 lengths Friday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Da Big Hoss was a fairly useful middle-distance horse the first half of his career, but since being claimed by trainer Mike Maker 50 weeks ago, he has improved dramatically, which Maker believes is simply a matter of letting Da Big Hoss run as far as he can.

They don’t come much farther than the two miles of the $300,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational, which Da Big Hoss used on Friday here at Belmont Park as a showcase for his current sharp form, scoring his sixth victory in nine tries since being taken by Maker.

Da Big Hoss ($6.40), the favorite in the 12-horse field, unleashed a strong rally on the third and final turn of the grass race and had enough left to hold safe the well-meant, French-raced import Now We Can and prevail by 1 1/2 lengths under Florent Geroux.

It was another 3 1/2 lengths back to Twilight Eclipse in third, then came Closing Bell, Belisarius, Up With the Birds, Silver Lime, Biz The Nurse, Kaigun, My Afleet, Tobias, and Rum Tum Tugger.

Da Big Hoss completed two miles on the firm course in 3:17.29, which is a course record for this infrequently run distance.

Da Big Hoss rallied from ninth, which was farther back than Maker said he anticipated.

“But that’s why, when you leg them up,” he said, nodding toward Geroux, “you don’t handcuff them. You let him make the decisions.”

Geroux said he merely wanted to let Da Big Hoss find his comfort level, and he was impressed with the way Da Big Hoss rolled past horses when it was time to advance.

“I let the horse be wherever he was comfortable. Let him dictate,” Geroux said. “He showed me a very good turn of foot. He can run as far as you want, as far as they write races, but he has the same turn of foot as a miler. He can go from fifth to sixth gear.”

Da Big Hoss, 5, has now won 10 of 19 starts. The son of Lemon Drop Kid is owned by Skychai Racing LLC, whose Dr. Harvey Diamond represented the stable here on Friday.

Da Big Hoss is a five-time stakes winner since being claimed, his victories this year including the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland and the Grade 3 Connally at Sam Houston. The $165,000 winner’s share increased his earnings this year alone to more than $440,000.

Maker said the next likely spot for Da Big Hoss would be the Grade 3, $300,000 American St. Leger at Arlington Park on Aug. 13 going 1 11/16 miles on  turf.