04/21/2008 12:00AM

Major breakthrough for Big Booster


ARCADIA, Calif. - Big Booster, the former claimer who revived his career with third-place finishes in three graded stakes in the last year, finally secured a big race win in Sunday's $250,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita.

With a last-to-first move in the final three-eighths under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Big Booster ($16) swept past six rivals to win the Grade 2 race over about 1 3/4 miles in 2:45.50.

Big Booster finished 2 1/4 lengths in front of Warning Zone. Porfido finished third, 1 1/4 lengths behind Warning Zone, with On the Acorn, the 5-2 favorite and defending champion, finishing fourth after fighting for the lead in early stretch. The disappointment was Shamdinan. The runner-up in the Breeders' Cup Turf last fall, Shamdinan faded through the final quarter-mile and finished last.

Bejarano's strategy surprised trainer Mike Mitchell, who also trains On the Acorn. Mitchell thought Big Booster would be closer to the pace and that On the Acorn would trail.

Big Booster "wants to make that one run," Mitchell said.

Owned by a partnership, Big Booster, a 7-year-old gelding by Accelerator, was claimed for $62,500 in February 2007. He has finished third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes, and Grade 3 Tokyo City Handicap in the last year.

Big Booster has won 9 of 43 starts and $638,433.