Big Changes Shows Class in Sunshine Millions Turf
Jan 19, 2019
Fifth Career Stakes Win for New Orleans Shipper in Florida Debut
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Steve Landers’ well-traveled multiple stakes winner Big Changes made his South Florida debut a winning one, sitting off the early leaders before pouncing at the top of the stretch and powering to a 1 ½-length victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park.
The 16th running of the 1 1/16-mile Turf for 4-year-olds and up was the second of four Florida-bred stakes worth $600,000 in purses on a 12-race Sunshine Millions Day program anchored by the $200,000 Classic.
It was the fifth career stakes victory for Big Changes ($3.60), the 4-5 favorite in a field of six ridden by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano for Fair Grounds-based trainer Brad Cox. Beaten a half-length by stablemate Mr. Misunderstood in the River City Handicap (G3) last fall, the 7-year-old gelding has won six of his last eight starts – all at different racetracks.
“We were very excited to ship in there and get a victory,” Cox said by phone from New Orleans. “He ran very well. Javier let those couple horses in front of him show the way. He had a good trip and he showed his class turning for home. He’s a nice horse.”
He’s Bankable, sent off at 25-1, flashed the early speed and was in front through a quarter-mile in 23.34 seconds and a half in 47.10. Class and Cash, a 13-time winner, stalked in second with Castellano keeping Big Changes in the clear three wide.
Class and Cash forged a short lead on the far turn but his move was followed by Castellano and Big Changes, who assumed the top spot once straightened for home and drew off to win in 1:40.48 over a fast main track. Second Mate closed to be second, a neck ahead of Archer Road.
Salute the Colonel, who got off slowly from the gate, finished fourth, followed by Class and Cash and He’s Bankable. Driven by Thunder, Expected Ruler and Chiseled were scratched.
“It was a perfect trip behind two speed horses. I could have been on the lead but you have to take your best shot to win the race,” Castellano said. “I’ve got the best horse. I’ve got the best trainer. He gave me the opportunity to ride the best horse in the race, and that’s exactly what I did. I had the best horse in the race and we had the best result, too.”
Big Changes now has finished in the top three in 18 of 24 lifetime starts with 10 wins and $518,550 in purse earnings. The son of 2008 juvenile male champion Midshipman was bred in Florida by Joanne Crowe and Joe Pickerrell.