'Paul stands tall in Handicap
FARMINGTON — It wasn't exactly the way trainer Justin Evans drew up the results, but a win is a win.
And for Evans and owners Jackie and Sylvia Herron, an upset score in today's $34,400 SunRay Park and Casino Handicap with Big Tall Paul and jockey Alejandro Medellin was just fine indeed.
The one-mile affair for older thoroughbreds changed complexion right at the start when post-time favorite Redneck Humor, ridden by Alfredo Juarez Jr., broke a step slow and was forced to rush up into a battle for the early lead.
Big Tall Paul, a Kentucky-bred son of Big Country, stalked the early pacesetters down the backstretch, which also included Overland Park and Bro Derek. After forcing a fast half-mile time of 45.74 seconds, Bro Derek and Redneck Humor began to get tired on the front end, which allowed Medellin to swing wide aboard the second longest shot on the board.
Big Tall Paul, a 12-time winner from 63 career starts, gradually wore down Overland Park in the center of the racetrack and prevailed by a long neck, stopping the clock in 1 minute and 37.23 seconds.
"The whole race shape changed when (Redneck Humor) missed the break," Evans said. "But give all the credit to (Medellin), he likes to get out there in the wide portion of the course where he can do his best."
Big Tall Paul won for the third time this year from five starts, adding more than $20,000 to his bankroll, which stands at nearly $260,000. His victory also returned $27.20 to his winning backers.
Overland Park ran too well to lose. The Nancy Summers trainee battled on the front end under Elvin Gonzalez, and had the lead inside the final furlong, but was unable to withstand the winner's late rally. The Texas-bred son of Snow Ridge was well clear of third-place finisher Redneck Humor.
The 11-to-10 favorite, Redneck Humor finished in front of Alley Oop Oop, followed by Real Heat, Watch Me Go and Bro Derek. La Swift was scratched earlier in the day.
Live racing at SunRay Park resumes Friday at 3 p.m., with the $33,800 Jimmy Drake Stakes scheduled as the featured race on the card.
Steve Bortstein hosts "First Sports" and "The Fast Track" on Fox Sports 1340 AM and 93.9 FM and on iHeartRadio. He serves as paddock show host at SunRay Park & Casino and is a voting member of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Follow him @fox1340am on Twitter.