Repole Stable's Dream Bigger returned to winning form with a powerful front-running effort in Sunday's $100,000 Damon Runyon at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Trained by Rudy Rodriguez, Dream Bigger arrived at the seven-furlong test for New York-bred sophomores from a third in the Rego Park on January 12 at the Big A.
With Junior Alvarado up for the first time, Dream Bigger broke to his left from the inside post but was quickly hustled up the rail to mark the opening quarter-mile in 23.16 seconds, just a head in front of Rego Park victor Scilly Cay, on the fast main track.
Dream Bigger cruised through the half-mile in 46.60 and continued to widen under pressure from Scilly Cay with Prince of Pharoahs and More Graytful stalking three lengths back. Dream Bigger put away Scilly Cay through the turn and opened up a 4 ½-length lead at the stretch call as More Graytful launched an inside bid, but there was no reeling in Dream Bigger, who romped home 7 3/4 lengths the best in 1:25.89.
More Graytful held second by three-quarters of a length over the slow-starting Bourbon Bay. Prince of Pharoahs, Titan's Will and Scilly Cay completed the order of finish. Chowda was scratched.
Alvarado said the plan was to take control of the race from the starting bell.
"He broke good, but he broke inside. I think that's why he lost a little momentum going forward at the break," said Alvarado. "My only plan today was to put him on the lead and see how long he could carry his speed. Today, he had a good day, and he carried it all the way to the wire.
"I thought somebody would put pressure on me, but I didn't have a second plan today," he added. "I was going to go to the lead breaking fast or slow. I was committed to the lead before the break."
It was the third stakes score for the Mission Impazible gray, adding to a ledger that includes wins in the New York Breeders' Futurity in September at Finger Lakes and the Notebook in November at the Big A.
Rodriguez credited Alvarado for a heady ride to secure the third stakes score for Dream Bigger.
"He ran a big race," said Rodriguez. "He broke a little slow, but Junior hustled him out of there and they took it from there."
Dream Bigger, bred in the Empire State by Sequel New York Twin Creeks Racing and Pamela Zieli, banked $57,750 in victory while improving his record to 6-3-3-1. He returned $6 for a $2 win ticket.
Live racing resumes Friday at the Big A with an eight-race card. First post is 1:30 p.m. Eastern.