Photos and Text: Pamela Burton
November 1, 2013, California ~ Owner Mark Powell could only say “Yes!” repeatedly and with great emphasis after his win with So Big is Better at the President of the United Arab Emirates Arabian Stakes Invitational, the last race of the day on the first day of the Breeders’ Cup weekend at Santa Anita. When Powell recovered his speech, he embraced his trainer, brother, Scott Powell. “Scott has been training So Big in New Mexico for the last month and So Big was ready,” he said.
“It was amazing to win,” Powell continued. “We were treated really well by all of the President’s Cup group and race officials. We are thankful to them to bring this type of race into the USA.”
Scott Powell had cause for a double celebration as he owns and trained the 3rd place finish, the Burning Sand daughter, Ms Dixie (out of the Wiking daughter, Dixie Darlene).
There were many good horses among the 11 that lined up for the start at Santa Anita with the impressive backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains. Al Waed, Litle Bit and Grilla grabbed the lead three across at the start with number 11, So Big Is Better, stalking quickly from the outside. It was never a contest, as So Big Is Better found his stride and pushed easily past some of the best Arabian contenders in the USA to win in the time of 1:55.78.
The French bred, No Problem Al Maury, recently purchased at the Arqana Paris Sale for 240,000 Euros, had been shipped over by new owner Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, adding to the International mark of the race. Guided by leading French trainer, Jean Francois Bernard, the racing card showed the Dormane colt’s last win by 25 lengths, and some thought he would have a clear shot. Perhaps he could not match the enthusiasm of the grey front-runner or it might have been the difference between the European and US running styles, but for this race he came in 2nd.
Powell purchased So Big Is Better, the 2004 son of Burning Sand out of WW Mirror Image (AT Ali Baba+/) from trainers Warren and Helen Shelley in 2012, and has since raced him from east to west and north to south. “It’s amazing how he handles all of the different tracks,” said Powell. “We drive him ourselves and we’ve put on 6 or 7,000 miles across the US this year. I’m really proud of him. He has that desire to win. With this he broke Line Dancer’s record of wins as a Burning Sand son,” enthused Powell. (Line Dancer’s record was 24 firsts out of 30 starts from 1999-2002.)
So Big Is Better
His career claims 54 starts and 25 wins since 2008 for total earnings of $333,065
2013 7 wins out of 11 races… earnings $132,725
Santa Anita 11/1/2013
Lone Star 10/12/13
Fairplex 9/12/13 HH Sheikh Zayed Arabian Cup Stakes
Arapahoe 8/18/2013 Crow Valley Classic
Arapahoe 6/2 13 Allowance
Sam Houston 3/3/2013
So Big Is Better did not return to the winners’ circle but was brought in by horse van after his win. “He has a slight suspensory problem, but he’s okay and eating well today, Saturday,” said Powell. “With rest we expect a full recovery. He has a big heart and he gave his all coming around the stretch. He can now look forward to the next chapter breeding mares. He will be available to start breeding in early 2014.”
Smoke House shipped from the east coast with his trainer and jockey. Unbeaten in 2012, the big chestnut four-year-old placed 3rd in the June, 2013 UAE Presidents’ Cup at Churchill Downs after two previous firsts. Asked how he was doing the day after his Santa Anita race, owner Kathy Smoke reported that Smoke House was fine. “Smokey is good, just tired,” she said. “We think we were a bit short on fitness. He didn’t quit trying; he just ran out of gas. He’s still growing and we plan to come back next year.”
Grilla, trained by veteran, Bill Waldron, won this race in 2010 at Keeneland, and had 3 wins this year.
1. SO BIG IS BETTER
2. NO PROBLEM AL MAURY (FR), jockey, Jean Bernard Eyquem
3. MS DIXIE, jockey Gregorio Rivera
Also ran: 9 – SMOKE HOUSE , 7 – AYERS , 2 – LUCKY SAND , 1 – SERGEANT PEPPER MHF , 6 – GRILLA , 3 – AL WAED , 8 – NC CASEY JONES , 4 – LITLE BIT
The $150,000 prize money UAE President’s Cup Gr 1 stakes is slated to run again at the 2014 Breeders’ Cup in Santa Anita. Officials from the UAE attending included Emirates Equestrian Federation Assistant Secretary General, Faisal Al Ali. Abdulla Ali Al Saboosi, General Consul of the United Arab Emirates to Los Angeles spoke. “This is the first time the Arabian race is here for the Breeders Cup. This is another good bridge being built between the UAE and the USA and we are very happy to be here.”
Photo Gallery: Photo Gallery http://photos.horsereporter.com/Racing2013-2/BreedersCup13/33177093_66JbSm
Total handle for Santa Anita for Friday, November 1, as reported by FalKirk International wagering consultant for Breeders’ Cup, was $51,521,146 versus $48,586,765 in 2012. Wagering on the Grade 1 President of the United Arab Emirates Cup totaled $1.7 million. The reported attendance was 35,833.
As for the other wonderful races at the Breeders’ Cup…well, that’s another story.