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Big Rigs to return to track in 2012

December 07, 2011

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During his 2- and 3-year-old campaigns, he always showed great promise and his conditioner, Kelly O’Donnell, certainly had faith in Big Rigs’ ability, yet whenever the colt had the opportunity to move to the top of his class, it seemed he would rather be sitting in a corner wearing a pointed cap emblazoned with the letter “D.”
His victory, however, in the $174,940 Matron Stakes last month at Dover Downs rewarded his connections continued patience and provided high expectations for his return to the races in 2012.
“All along I knew he was as good as anything out there,” O’Donnell said. “He’s just one of those trotters that is kind of like a rotten little kid. He doesn’t care if he gets in trouble or not. He doesn’t care when he makes a break or what kind of race it is or even if he’s going for a lot of money.”
Big Rigs is a son of Andover Hall-Filly At Bigs. His dam earned more than $650,000 during her own racing career, was third in the Hambletonian Oaks and won the Filly World Trotting Derby as a 3-year-old. The colt was purchased for $70,000 at the 2009 Lexington Selected Sale by Miller’s Stable, DM Stables and Ed Mullinax after O’Donnell thought he looked the part of an athlete and also liked his lineage.
Big Rigs has won eight of 25 career races and earned $558,886. He possesses a lifetime mark of 1:52.2. He captured his debut at Pocono Downs on Aug. 9, 2010, and a $98,490 Champlain Stakes division at Mohawk Raceway in his third pari-mutuel mile, before finishing second in his elimination for the William Wellwood Memorial. The colt made a break in the $485,000 final the following week and then had his picture taken in his Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono Downs on Oct. 1, 2010. Once again, Big Rigs decided to break in the $600,000 Crown final and finished last in a field of nine.
He rebounded to win an $88,500 division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile, before ending his season with a third in an $89,300 division of the International Stallion Stakes.
“He was kind of a growthy horse and took maybe just a little bit of extra time,” O’Donnell said. “I don’t think we started baby racing him until July, so he was a little bit of a slow learner, but once we got him started he caught on pretty quick. He won his eliminations for the Wellwood and Breeders Crown. He was interfered with by other horses in the Breeders Crown and I think that scared him, then he made a couple of breaks in some real bad spots like in the final of the Wellwood.”
The colt won this year’s seasonal bow, a $67,404 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes contest at Harrah’s Chester on May 30, then finished third in his Earl Beal Jr. Memorial elimination at Pocono Downs and then was fourth in the $500,000 final the following week. After a sixth in a division of the Reynolds Stake at Pocono Downs, Big Rigs was a sharp second to Chapter Seven in a $166,000 division of the Stanley Dancer Memorial at the Meadowlands on July 16 and appeared poised for a big effort in the Hambletonian.
That, however, was not meant to be. In his Hambletonian elimination on July 30, Big Rigs and former stablemate Bambino Hall hooked wheels during the race, causing them both to go off stride and not make the final.
“He was probably going to be second, third or fourth and make the final, but they hooked wheels at the three-quarter pole, so that killed his Hambletonian hopes,” O’Donnell said.
Big Rigs won a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes in his next start on August 10 at The Meadows, and then picked up the second-place check in the $200,000 sire stakes final on September 5 at Chester. He finished fourth in the Keystone Classic on September 21, also at The Meadows, and then hit the wire third in two heats of the Kentucky Futurity at The Red Mile on October 2.
True to his prior form, the colt captured a $113,000 division of the Bluegrass Stakes at The Red Mile on Oct. 9 and then traveled to Woodbine to contest the Breeders Crown. Once again, Big Rigs decided to be his own worst enemy and broke in his elimination, which once again left him out of another lucrative event final.
“We went from Lexington where there were no breaks and he won in 1:52.2, which is his lifetime best, to the Breeders Crown,” O’Donnell said. “He had the eight hole in his elimination, left the gate with a first quarter in :27(.2) and at the half was relaxed, totally loose-lined and perfectly positioned behind Manofmanymissions. Then coming off the final turn and with no reason he broke again. We were kind of starting to think he was allergic to money.”
After his Breeders Crown debacle, Big Rigs’ next performance was a fourth in his Matron Stakes elimination at Dover Downs on Nov. 6 and then the colt finally decided to live up to his potential when he took the final in a track-record 1:52.4.
“I was tickled pink to win the Matron after all the heartbreaks from the Hambletonian on,” O’Donnell said. “Manofmanymissions had already been retired, a couple of other ones weren’t in there, but to finally beat Chapter Seven, who probably had five lengths on him coming home until he (Big Rigs) dug in down the lane and won by a length and a quarter, and Broad Bahn, while breaking the track record, finally proved he was a real good colt. He should have $1.2 or $1.3 million, but he’s made some bad breaks.
"Hopefully he’ll be over that next year, when we bring him back," he continued. "He should be bigger, stronger and more mature. After the way he raced in his last start at Dover, he should come back really strong as a 4-year-old. Right now we are going to give him some days off, then jog him every other day and turn him out every other day for a month. Then we will get him ready again and he will be eligible to all the big ones.” (Harness Racing Communications)
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