Giant Expectations wins Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile berth in Pat O’Brien Stakes

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

© Benoit Photo

By Sarah Mace

The left coast’s Drefong and West Coast (the horse) may have had their way with the eastern contingents in Saturday’s Grade 1 Forego and Travers Stakes at Saratoga, but later the same day at Del Mar 4-year-old Giant Expectations, a New York-bred colt by New York sire Frost Giant (Sunrise Stallions / Keane Stud), somewhat evened the score after stalking his way to a 1 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Pat O’Brien Stakes.

The 7-furlong contest, which attracted a field of ten, was a “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, which came with an all-expenses-paid ticket for the winner to the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar on Saturday, November 4.

Breaking from post nine under veteran pilot Gary Stevens, and the 9-2 third choice in the field of ten, Giant Expectations was hung out seven wide on the backstretch, as the bulk of the field got off to an even start. The chestnut colt eventually settled in sixth position in the run to the far turn behind 3-1 favorite Moe Candy, who led the group through an opening quarter mile in 22.89 from his inside post.

Advancing two spots under encouragement and rounding far bend four deep, Giant Expectations was set down for the drive. His new target, once pacesetter Moe Candy gave up the ghost, was 7-1 Calculator.

Giant Expectations ran down Calculator, who had to settle for second, and continued with good energy to get the win by 1 1/2 lengths going away. Second choice Silent Bird (3-1) finished another 2 3/4 lengths back in third. After a half-mile in 45.14 and six furlongs in a flashy 1:08.83, Giant Expectations stopped the clock at 1:21.08 after seven furlongs over a fast track.

“He broke sharp and he was right in it,” said Gary Stephens, after his second consecutive call on Giant Expectations. “I used one of his gears a little earlier than I wanted to, to get position. There was some ‘jockeying’ going on out there [in the turn], especially between [Kent] Desormeaux [on Silent Bird] and me. We were going in and out, but my horse loved it.”

Continued Stephens, “He’s a bulldog. I rode him last time and he ran great. I thought he was sitting on something big. He showed it today.”

As to the chestnut colt’s prospects for the BC Mile, Stevens opined, “I think he’ll actually be better off if they run him a mile. He’ll have more time to settle going into that first turn and I expect he’ll run big.”

Giant Expectations’ dominant performance seemed almost to come as a surprise to Peter Eurton, who trains the colt for Exline Border Racing and Gatto Racing.

“He showed up today and I’m really proud of him,” said Eurton. “Gary chose him over Kobe’s Back [a 6-year-old who finished sixth] basically because of the youth. This horse is four. I didn’t think he would run this big, but I’m glad he did. We’re pretty happy right now.”

The Pat O’Brien Stakes was Giant Expectations’ stakes debut. Although the colt, who was unraced at two, failed to break his maiden in six tries last year out West, he did turn heads with a runner-up finish to eventual Champion and Dubai World Cup winner Arrogate, when the latter broke his maiden on June 5, 2016 at Santa Anita.

Following 11 months on the sidelines, Giant Expectations shipped back east for commanding victories in consecutive races against New York-breds at Belmont Park on May 29 and June 8 in his seventh and eighth career starts. He came into the Pat O’Brien after falling short by just three-quarters of a length in a one-mile optional claimer in his Del Mar debut on July 19, for which he earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 91.

Bred by Sunrise Stables and foaled at Saratoga Glen Farm in Schuylerville, Giant Expectations first sold for $85,000 as a short yearling at the 2014 Keeneland January sale. A $70,000 buyback at the same venue in September, he was purchased by Ryan Exline for $135,000 at the 2015 OBS March sale of 2-year-olds.

Giant Expectations, who is the first graded stakes winner for his sire Frost Giant, has compiled a record of three wins, three seconds and a third from 10 starts and has earned $253,200. He is one of three winners from three foals to start out of Sarahisittrue, a winner by Is It True, who was bred in New York by Herman Wilensky and campaigned by IEAH Stables. The dam of Giant Expectations’ full sister Bambisfrostyracer, Sarahisittrue has been bred exclusively to Frost Giant, producing three more full brothers: 3-year-old winner Say It Aint Frosty, juvenile A True Giant, who is not yet started, an unnamed yearling and a weanling filly.

2 Responses to “Giant Expectations wins Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile berth in Pat O’Brien Stakes”

  1. Todd Stinson says:

    And a full sister weanling.

  2. Sarah Mace says:

    Thanks — the weanling wasn’t yet in Eqineline mare produce stats. Not registered yet? I’ll add.

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