HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Keith Johnston and Chris Aulds’ Florida-bred Big and Classy lived up to his name and the bettors’ expectations Saturday at Gulfstream Park while easily capturing the $65,000 Jackson Bend overnight handicap by three-and-a-half lengths.

Sent to post at the 3-5 favorite, the strapping 4-year-old son of The Big Beast notched his eighth victory in 2023 to move into a tie with Wyoming-based Fayette Warrior for the most wins in North America this year.

“His name says it all,” trainer Bobby Dibona said. “I keep saying that, but his name says everything. He’s a gem. He’s got a bit heart. He just knows how to do it.”

Big and Classy, the 123-pound highweight in the seven-furlong handicap for 3-year-olds and older, broke well from the gate to sit just off pacesetter Warrior’s Pride along the backstretch and far turn before taking the lead on the turn into the homestretch. Avant Glory made a menacing outside bid to his outside entering the stretch, but Big and Classy kicked in and drew off to yet another convincing triumph, giving jockey Leonel Reyes his first of three wins on Saturday’s card.

Big and Classy ran seven furlongs in 1:22.56. Avant Glory finished second under Edwin Gonzalez, two-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Zydeceaux and jockey Sonny Leon. Cajun’s Magic, Warrior’s Pride and Starship Renegade completed the order of finish. While the Jackson Bend was open, all starters were bred in Florida.

Big and Classy paid $3.40 to win.

Big and Classy was claimed for $20,000 out of a second straight win in March before winning his next four races for his current connections. He went on to finish second behind Florida-bred Dean Delivers in the Grade 3 Smile Sprint on July 1 before winning an upper level, $62,500 optional claiming and coming up a length short of victory last time out while second in the Edwin T. Broome Memorial Handicap won by Long Range Toddy.

Big and Classy now has nine career wins in 20 starts with three seconds and a third while earning $321,720. Out of I’mclassyandsassy, by Master Command, Big and Classy was bred by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong.

Big and Classy is scheduled to run next in the $100,000 Gil Campbell Memorial at a mile for registered Florida-breds Oct. 21 at Gulfstream. The Gil Campbell also offers a $50,000 Florida Sire Stakes bonus presented by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Associaton to the top three finishers on a 60-30-10 basis

“He has to go a little bit further, but I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” Dibona said. “I think this will serve as a big steppingstone.


Arindel Doubles Up for Sunday’s Hallandale Beach Stakes

Arindel, a perennial force among South Florida breeders and owners, will double up for Sunday’s $65,000 Hallandale Beach at Gulfstream Park. The Hallandale Beach will also offer a $25,000 win bonus for FTBOA registered Florida-breds presented by the FTBOA.

Kiss, a stakes-placed daughter of Army Mule; and Hepburn, a Florida-bred daughter of Dialed In who is coming off an impressive maiden winner, are among the seven juvenile fillies entered for the mile stakes on the main track. Both are trained by Juan Alvarado.

Kiss, who broke her maiden at Ellis Park in June, finished second last time out in the six-furlong Sharp Susan following a six-wide rally. Hepburn, who graduated in a six-furlong maiden special weight race after overcoming bumping at the start, debut with a gutsy third-place finish behind Star of Saturn, who was entered in the Hallandale Beach but ran second behind rising star R Harper Rose in a Friday optional claiming allowance.

Leading rider Edgard Zayas has the return call on Kiss, while Emisael Jaramillo will be back aboard Hepburn.

AMO Racing USA’s Omaha Girl, a $400,000 purchase at the 2022 Keeneland September sale, is slated to make her Gulfstream debut after breaking her maiden on dirt at first asking before finishing a troubled fifth on turf in the Colleen at Monmouth Park.

Samy Camacho has the call on the Jorge Delgado trainee.

The Hallandale Beach, which as been carded as the eighth race, will be featured in the 20¢ Rainbow 6 sequence that will span race four through nine.

The 20¢ Rainbow 6 gross jackpot pool will be guaranteed at $175,000 for Sunday’s program. The popular multi-race wager has gone unsolved for seven racing days following back-to-back jackpot hits.

The Rainbow 6 jackpot is paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70% of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners, while 30% is carried over to the jackpot pool.

Return to Sept. 23 issue of Wire to Wire