All American: Big Dashing Deal

Toby Keeton prepares to send out Big Dashing Perry in the All American Derby.

Q-Racing Journal

Ex-jockey Bobby Harmon on pony, Toby Keeton and groom, and G.R. Carter Jr. on Big Dashing Perry. PHOTO: Richard Chamberlain

Toby Keeton was feeling pretty good after the trials for the $1,920,887 All American Derby (G1) at Ruidoso Downs.

“Oh, Big Dashing Perry ran a big race in the trials – the first time we’d ever run him,” the trainer says. “The horse came back really, really good from that race, came back sound, so I look for him to run a big race in the final.”

Big Dashing Perry won the first of 12 trials to clock the :21.184 fastest-qualifying time to Derby.

“This is the first time I’ve ridden him,” champion jockey G.R. Carter Jr. said after dismounting from the trial race. “I stood him in the gate and he was perfect. Today he just ran a nice race. He broke well and finished strong. He’s a pro and he likes the distance.”

Big Dashing Perry was making his first start since finishing a close third in Mister Big’s $167,300 Sam Houston Derby (G3) on April 19. Now the winner of five of seven starts and an earner of $168,230, Big Dashing Perry started his career with three consecutive wins, a freshman streak capped with Bobby Martinez sending him out under David Alvarez to score a three-quarter-length win in the $265,775 Firecracker Futurity (G2) at Delta Downs.

“Bobby sent him to me about 60 days before the All American trials,” Keeton says. “Bobby always does a real good job and he had Big Dashing Perry in real good shape. This horse came up here and he and Ruidoso just hit it off really good. Some horses that come up here don’t do good.”

Big Dashing Perry was bred by Jon and Donna McPherson’s Grant Farms at Pineville, Louisiana. The bay gelding is by Mr Jess Perry out of the winning Dashin Bye mare Marcys Dashin Bye ($76,117), who has produced five winners and the earners of more than $232,000 from seven starters, and is from the family of champion First To Flash ($494,835), whose champion son First Moonflash sired All American Futurity qualifier Mad About The Moon and All American Derby qualifier Too Flash For You. Purchased for $45,000 at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale, Big Dashing Perry races for the Elgin,Texas-based partnership of Grant Farms; Tommy Hays, D.V.M.; and Bobby Barnett.

“I saw Big Dashing Perry at the sale and I really liked him,” says Dr. Hays. “Grant Farms had him and we’d partnered on horses before so we talked about it. He went through the sale and he didn’t bring what they wanted so we made a deal on him. He’s from a great family – I’ve worked on his granddaddy and his grandmother, all the way back, so I knew the horses, knew the family and how good they are. That’s what we were going on: how he looked – a big pretty horse from a real good family.”

Big Dashing Perry chipped an ankle last year when he ran in champion Kates Dynasty’s Texas Classic Futurity (G1). Dr. Hays did the surgery and then the gelding was laid off until he ran at Sam Houston Race Park, where he got away a little slow in the 350-yard Derby.

“He broke out and just didn’t have enough room – he needs 440,” Dr. Hays recalls. “He’s a big horse and he needs extra ground.”

Big Dashing Perry will have that extra ground when he sprints the classic quarter-mile in the All American Derby.

“And he’ll have the man on him who got him there,” says Hays, referring to Carter. “The horse is really good, sound and healthy, and we’ve pretty much saved him for this race. He needs to go 440 and that’s why we didn’t run him anymore after the Sam Houston Derby. We wanted him fresh for the All American. That’s why we waited so long – it really wasn’t a soundness issue, we wanted him to be good and ready.”

The all-time leading rider and 10-time AQHA champion jockey, Carter rode champion Dashing Perfection to win the 1997 All American Derby and qualified three of the four-fastest qualifiers to this year’s Derby: Big Dashing Perry, Kates Dynasty and J Bar. After he galloped Big Dashing Perry on Monday, Carter told Keeton he would ride him back in the All American.

“We worked him twice and gave him two breezes after we got him, and in his last breeze he really breezed good so I knew he was going to run a big race in the trials,” Keeton says. “Since then, we’ve loped him twice and stood him this morning (Monday), and we’re going to run him. He’s ready to go.

“He’s like a little ol’ teddy bear around the barn,” Keeton says. “He wants to be loved on and be happy, and that’s it.  But when he goes up to race, he’s a different horse. On race day, he’s a bear.”

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