Big Returns Wins Graduation by DQ

From DMTC Publicity
DEL MAR, Calif. (Aug. 2, 2019) — Big Returns, the 6-5 favorite, was second under the wire in the $100,000 Graduation Stakes for Golden State Series eligible 2-year-olds on Friday but was elevated into first place when 13-1 longshot Square Deal, the original winner, was disqualified for causing interference in the stretch.

Square Deal, with jockey Norberto Arroyo, Jr., in the saddle, reached the wire a length and three-quarters in front but drifted in late in the stretch, interfering with Pas de Panique, third at the end of the five and one-half furlongs, a length and one-half behind Big Returns.

After viewing the videotape of the stretch run, Del Mar’s board of stewards disqualified Square Deal, placing him third and moving Big Returns into first and Pas de Panique to runner-up.

Big Returns, piloted by Ruben Fuentes for owner William R. Peeples and trainer Luis Mendez, earned $57,000 with his second victory in as many starts. The winner, a son of Mr. Big bred by George Krikorian, returned $4.40, $2.80 and $2.40.

“I thought he could be put up (for the win),” said Mendez. “The rider had to bring him up, big time, and that caused him to lose momentum. He had space to go through, but had to pull up. I’m happy with what they (stewards) did. They did the right thing. When he came out of the gate, the second jump he kind of stumbled but he came back like a champion. We’ll see how he comes out of the race and make sure he’s OK and go from there. But I’m excited about this horse. We might go to the Futurity.”

Pas de Panique, who was ridden by Abel Cedillo, paid $4 and $3.80, while Square Deal returned $5.60 to show. Fourth in the field of seven California-bred two-year-olds was Bluegrass Faith. Withdrawn from the sprint were Project Leader, Bulletproof One and Fast Enough.

Time for the distance was 1:06.34.

Cedillo and Drayden Van Dyke had doubles on the program. Cedillo won the first on Brilliant Richie in the first and Clear to Close by disqualification in the fifth, while Van Dyke’s winners were Wildman Jack in the fourth and Meal Ticket in the sixth.