02/14/2012 11:32AM

Giant Oak Illinois Horse of the Year for a third straight year


Giant Oak, who won the Grade 1 Donn Handicap early last year, has been named the Illinois Horse of the Year by the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation, it was announced late Monday.

A son of Giant’s Causeway-Crafty Oak bred and owned by Virginia and Rudy Tarra, Giant Oak won the Illinois Horse of the Year award for the third straight season. The 6-year-old was third in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon last fall in his career finale. Giant Oak suffered a hind-end injury while training at Hawthorne for the Clark Handicap and subsequently was retired to stud at Millennium Farms in Kentucky.

Trained by Chris Block, Giant Oak also was named Illinois champion older handicap male, while another horse trained by Block, Suntracer, was awarded divisional honors in two categories, 3-year-old male and turf horse. Third Chance also received top honors in two divisions (3-year-old filly and female sprinter), as did Peyote Patty (older female and female turf). Banner Bill was named champion 2-year-old male, Class Break the 2-year-old filly champion, and River Bear the top Illinois-bred male sprinter.