Big Late Run by Macho Uno's Small Bear to Take Gio Ponti S.

11.24.2017 -

Small Bear used a strong rally in the lane to win the $150,000 Gio Ponti Stakes for 3-year-olds on turf by a neck over Funtastic.

Watch the Gio Ponti Stakes

Small Bear, a gelding by Macho Uno owned by Hall of Fame football coach Bill Parcells, was winless in three previous starts on turf. He did run a solid second in the Better Talk Now Stakes at Saratoga two starts back.

Englehart felt Small Bear would be better off being taken back off the pace and come with one late run. But jockey Rajiv Maragh called Englehart earlier in the day and felt there wasn’t ample speed in the field to make that running style effective. Englehart told Maragh to ride him as he saw fit, but did ask Maragh to have Small Bear in the clear when it came time to make his run.

Maragh had Small Bear along the inside, saving ground down the backstretch while Secretary At War set fractions of 24.77 seconds for the quarter, 49.40 for the half-mile, and 1:12.97 for six furlongs.

Small Bear was inside of Funtastic, ridden by Jose Ortiz, who launched his bid on the far turn. Maragh followed that move and tipped Small Bear four to five wide into the clear turning for home. Funtastic caught Secretary At War at the sixteenth pole, but Small Bear was charging hard at him and caught Funtastic late.

Small Bear covered the 1 1/16 miles over turf listed as firm but was more like good in 1:42.79 and returned $19.80 as the fourth choice in the field of 10.

“The main thing that Jeremiah said to me was when it’s time to go, get him in the clear,” Maragh said. “I had an opportunity where I could probably squeeze him into a tight spot along the inside, but that’s not his preferred running style. He’s much more effective on the outside, so I kind of went out of my way a little bit just to put myself into the clear when I was ready to make my move.”

Bred in Kentucky by Martin Lake & Serendipity Farm, Small Bear has now amassed a bankroll of $286,432.

Englehart said that Small Bear would join the string he has this winter at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida.

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