Money Man

- -

Ian Wilkes settled into his seat, leaned forward to rest his elbows on the small ledge in his box and didn’t hit the panic button while he watched Big Dollar Bill drop about 7 lengths behind a three-way battle in Thursday’s four-horse Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. 

 Chris Landeros, Wilkes’ son-in-law and the man on the Midnight Lute gelding’s back, didn’t panic either. 

Wilkes, who also sent out Archanova in the 1 3/4-mile stamina test on the main track, liked what he saw as it matched his pre-race wish list. 

“I’m just going to let Archie go,” Wilkes said. “And Big Dollar Bill, I’ve been wanting to run him in a race like this. The big key is how they relax, you don’t want him rank or fighting. They’ll just lope along, probably go in 1:15 out there.”

The trio of leaders – Carlino, defending champ Hard Study and Archanova – actually went in 1:19.16 for the first 6 furlongs of the $100,000 stakes. The three battled it out into the backstretch the second time almost as if the race were to end at the quarter-pole, while Landeros and Big Dollar Bill loped along at the back.

After 1 mile in 1:44.82 Wilkes sat a little straighter in his chair, alternated his gaze between the live action across the track and the infield big screen. 

“He’s starting to close now,” Wilkes said, as Landeros let Big Dollar Bill loose and sliced into the deficit around the turn. “I do like this horse, I’ve been dying to see him do this. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t run.”

Big Dollar Bill continued his run around the turn, quickly going from nearly 7 lengths back at the half-mile pole to just a length behind at the quarter pole. 

“Go on, keep going around them Chris. Go around them,” Wilkes said, smacking his hands together. “Go on, come on. Come on Big, come on Big, keep going boy. Come on boy.”

To read the rest of the Birdstone recap, download Friday’s digital edition of The Saratoga Special presented by EasyFix Stable Solutions.