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Giant Oak pre-enters BC Marathon
By Marcus Hersh
STICKNEY, Ill. – Hawthorne will have a representative at the Breeders’ Cup this year, with Giant Oak pre-entered in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon, trainer Chris Block confirmed Monday.
“We did pre-enter him, and the intention, barring any problems between now and then, is to run,” said Block, who trains Giant Oak for the Virginia Tarra Trust.
Giant Oak has not won a race in 2010, has only one victory the last two calendar years, and remains eligible for a third-level allowance race 21 starts into his career. Yet, he may be one of the top choices in the Marathon, especially with Garrett Gomez expected to ride, according to Block.
Giant Oak earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure finishing a closing second to Redding Colliery in the Oct. 9 Hawthorne Gold Cup, and he has fared well over the main track at Churchill Downs, with fourth-place finishes in the 2010 Stephen Foster and the 2009 Clark Handicap and a near-miss second in the 2009 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
Giant Oak had a major work for the Marathon on Sunday, going one mile in 1:41.60 at Hawthorne.
“He worked by himself for a half-mile, but then his brother [3-year-old Sheltowee] worked with him the last half-mile,” Block said. “He never works fabulous, but this was a good, steady mile.”
Giant Oak will work again here either Sunday or Monday before shipping to Churchill on Tuesday.
Block said he’s looking forward to trying Giant Oak in a long-distance race on dirt, probably the colt’s best surface.
“I think from being around him the time I have been, he seems to be the kind of horse that just is steady, and I think his running style fits that kind of race,” Block said. “He got the mile and a quarter in the Gold Cup, so I don’t think [distance] is going to be a big issue. I think the pace of the race is going to be more to his liking, because I believe they’re going to plod along there. He doesn’t’ have a big burst of speed, he kind of grinds it out, and I think it will be that kind of race.”
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