DEL MAR, Calif. (AP) Big John B raced to his first victory in three career starts on a dirt surface, rallying to beat Bailoutbobby by a half-length Friday in the Grade 3 $100,000 Cougar II Handicap at Del Mar.
The 2014 Del Mar Handicap champion, a 12-time winner in 28 races on grass, ran 1 1/2 miles in 2:31.62. Ridden by Rafael Bejarano, the 6-year-old gelding paid $8.40, $4.80 and $3 and earned $60,000 to push his career total to $567,175.
Big John B is owned by Michael House and trained by Phil D'Amato.
''He trained so well on the dirt track at Santa Anita and just as well on the dirt track here at Del Mar,'' D'Amato said. ''The distance was right. The timing was right to get him a prep for the Del Mar Handicap. We took a shot. Rafael said they put him in tight at the quarter pole, but it didn't bother him, he bulled his way through and won with something left. The Pacific Classic is definitely not out of the realm of possibility, but right now I'd say we're leaning more toward the Del Mar Handicap.''
Bailoutbobby returned $7.60 and $2.80, and Sky Kingdom paid $2.20 to show.