Updated on 06/04/2013 5:33PM

Belmont Stakes: Giant Finish tries to give owner what Big Brown could not deliver

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Barbara D. Livingston
Giant Finish will be a longshot when he runs for owner Andy Cohen in Saturday's Belmont Stakes. Cohen was a partner in 1-5 Belmont favorite Big Brown in 2008.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After experiencing a giant failure in the Belmont Stakes five years ago, owner Andy Cohen is hoping for a Giant Finish to this year’s Triple Crown.

In 2008, Cohen was a minority owner of Big Brown, who after decisive victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, was the 1-5 favorite to win the Belmont and become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

It wasn’t meant to be. After an awkward start and some bumping into the first turn, Big Brown was never in the race, eventually being eased by jockey Kent Desormeaux approaching the quarter pole while longshot Da’ Tara recorded a 38-1 upset.

“We were pretty confident going in,” said Cohen, who was part owner of Big Brown with IEAH Stables, Paul Pompa Jr., and others. “We weren’t expecting it to end the way it ended.”

Saturday, Cohen will try to get his Belmont Stakes with longshot Giant Finish, who finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby after being entered in the race at the last minute.

Giant Finish is trained by Tony Dutrow, the brother of Richard Dutrow Jr., who trained Big Brown.

“He doesn’t have the greatest turn of foot, but he seems he can go the same speed every quarter and keep running forever,” Cohen said of Giant Finish. “I think he fits in well in this race.”

Cohen, who races under the moniker Sunrise Stables, also is the breeder of Giant Finish as he is the managing partner of the stallion Frost Giant, who stands at Keane Stud.

[BELMONT STAKES: Probable field and latest updates]

In 2008, three weeks after Big Brown’s defeat in the Belmont Stakes, Frost Giant won the Suburban, then a Grade 1 race at 1 1/4 miles, at odds of 40-1.

“Frost Giant has got a great pedigree, and he was a great racehorse,” Cohen said. “He could have been a better racehorse if he wasn’t such a knucklehead.”

Cohen owned Frost Giant with many of the same people who owned Big Brown. Cohen, who retains about 10 percent interest in Big Brown, bought out his partners on Frost Giant.

In his first year at stud, Frost Giant set a progeny earnings record for a New York freshman sire when his progeny earned more than $750,000 on the track. His first crop included New York-bred stakes winners Kelli Got Frosty and West Hills Giant.

Those two and Giant Finish are three of nine horses owned by Cohen and a syndicate that includes former Big Brown partner Gary Tolchin.

Cohen no longer has any business dealings with IEAH, the once prominent stable that is all but out of the game.

“They’ve run into some financial problems. They’re not into the game as much as they were. I’m sort of doing my own thing now,” said Cohen, who has quit his job on Wall Street to concentrate solely on racing. “I’ve got a bunch of partners. Everybody’s having a real good time.”

Giant Finish, a grand-looking chestnut with a big white face, has not yet won a stakes but finished second in the John Battaglia and third in the Grade 3 Spiral, both on synthetic surfaces. Those performances and the high action Giant Finish displayed in a workout at Belmont Park on Tuesday morning suggest that his future may be on the turf.

The immediate future for Giant Finish, however, is in the Belmont, where Cohen learned firsthand five years ago, anything can happen in the last leg of the Triple Crown.

“It’s a tough and grueling three races,” Cohen said. “It didn’t quite work out like we had hoped [with Big Brown]. Maybe Giant Finish can finish off our personal Triple Crown.”

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Frost Giant set an earnings record for freshman sires. The record he set was for New York freshman sires.