Exline- Border Racing LLC and Gatto Racing LLC’s Giant Expectations lived up to his name on Saturday when capturing the $201,725 Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) by 1 1/2 lengths under jockey Gary Stevens.
The seven-furlong contest is part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win & You’re In” Challenge series and bestowed an automatic berth to the November 4 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) on the Peter Eurton trainee.
Giant Expectations bided his time on the outside early as Moe Candy set the opening half-mile in :22.69 and :45.15. The leader was closely stalked by Mr. Hinx, who took brief command of the race on the turn before Calculator wrested control away.
Meanwhile, Giant Expectations was gaining ground fast on the outside nearing the turn. The four-year-old colt circled the bend six wide and ran down Calculator to take over, pulling away in the shadow of the wire to stop the clock in 1:21.08 over the fast main track.
Sent off the 9-2 third choice in the 10-horse field, Giant Expectations paid $11.40 for capturing his stakes debut. Calculator was best of the rest, 2 3/4 lengths up on Silent Bird, who rallied to be third by a half-length over Mr. Hinx.
Completing the order under the line were Solid Wager, Kobe’s Back, Blameitonthelaw, Home Run Kitten, Denman’s Call and Moe Candy.
Giant Expectations is now 3-3-1 from 10 starts in his career and nearly doubled his bankroll to $253,200 with this win. The Frost Giant chestnut took seven tries to break his maiden, finally getting the job done by 9 3/4 lengths while making his seasonal bow on May 29 at Belmont Park. That was his first race outside of California and he immediately followed up just 10 days later on June 8 with a 2 1/2-length allowance score at Big Sandy.
Eurton shipped Giant Expectations back to California and the New York-bred entered this spot off a close second against allowance/optional claiming rivals at Del Mar on July 19.
Bred by Sunrise Stables, Giant Expectations is the first registered stakes winner out of the Is It True mare Sarahisittrue and comes from a championship Italian female family.
PAT O’BRIEN QUOTES
Peter Eurton, trainer Giant Expectations, winner
“He showed up today and I’m really proud of him. Gary (Stevens) chose him over Kobe’s Back 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.”
Gary Stevens, jockey Giant Expectations, winner
“He broke sharp and he was right in it. I used one of his gears a little earlier than I wanted to get position. There was some ‘jockeying’ going on out there, especially between (Kent) Desormeaux (on Silent Bird) and me. We were going in and out, but my horse loved it (the competition). 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.
The win gave Giant Expectations an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Del Mar on November 3
“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.”
Rafael Bejarano, jockey Calculator, second
“He got away a little slow, but we got a good position pretty quick. He got through there, then threw his ears up. Then the winner was by us. He ran good, though.”
Kent Desormeaux, jockey Silent Bird, third
“He showed up. The fastest race of the meet by far and he was right there. Hadn’t run in more than five months, but he was right with them today.”