08/26/2017 10:15PM

Giant Expectations punches Breeders' Cup ticket with Pat O'Brien win

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Benoit & Associates
Giant Expectations made a wide rally under Gary Stevens to win the Grade 2 Pat O'Brien Stakes at Del Mar by 1 1/2 lengths.

DEL MAR, Calif. – Giant Expectations beat maidens at Belmont Park on Memorial Day in his seventh career start. Three starts and less than three months later, Giant Expectations is bound for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Del Mar on Nov. 3 after winning his stakes debut in Saturday’s Grade 2 Pat O’Brien Stakes at Del Mar.

Ridden by Gary Stevens, Giant Expectations ($11.40) rallied wide in the final three furlongs to win the $201,725 O’Brien Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths over 7-1 Calculator. Giant Expectations ran seven furlongs in 1:21.08.

The O’Brien winner received a fees-paid berth to the BC Dirt Mile through the Breeders’ Cup Win and You’re In program.

Giant Expectations won an allowance race for New York-breds at a mile around one-turn at Belmont Park on June 8, a distance trainer Peter Eurton said should fit the 4-year-old colt this fall.

“I think it sets up well for him,” he said.

Giant Expectations was part of a wide-open field in the O’Brien, a race that changed dramatically on Friday afternoon when trainer Bob Baffert said expected favorite Danzing Candy was out with a leg injury.

In a field of 10, Moe Candy inherited the favorite's role and went off at 3-1. Moe Candy, who broke from the inside, set the pace through early fractions of 22.69 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 45.14 for a half-mile.

Stevens had Giant Expectations in sixth place on the backstretch and steadily made progress to be third, trailing by a length, with a furlong to go.

“He kept to the task,” Eurton said. “The pace wasn’t outrageously fast.”

Silent Bird, the 3-1 second choice, finished third, followed by Mr. Hinx, Solid Wager, Kobe’s Back, Blameitonthelaw, Home Run Kitten, Denman’s Call and Moe Candy, who faded rapidly in the stretch.

Giant Expectations, by Frost Giant, has won three of 10 starts and earned $253,200. Owned by Ex-line-Border Racing and Gatto Racing, Giant Expectations was sidelined for 11 months from June 2016 until earlier this year because of a lung infection, Eurton said.

Giant Expectations had his first two starts of the year in New York to take advantage of that circuit’s lucrative purses for state-breds. Giant Expectations, who was bred by Sunrise Stables in New York, was purchased for $135,000 at the Ocala Breeders’ Sale of 2-year-olds in-training in March, 2015.