11/25/2011 3:13PM

Hawthorne: Giant Oak injury apparently not compromising


Grade 1 winner Giant Oak appears to have escaped compromising injury in a training accident that occurred last week at Hawthorne.

Giant Oak was galloping when a horse spooked and ran him into him, injuring the hip and pelvis region on his hind end. Early this week, Giant Oak was vanned from Hawthorne to the Hagyard-Davidson-McGee veterinary clinic in Lexington, Ky., where an MRI, a bone scan, and an ultrasound were performed on the affected area.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” said Chris Block, who trains Giant Oak for owners Rudy and Virginia Tarra. “At this point it looks like it could be a severe bone bruise where the pelvis and the hip come together. There appears to be bruising but no tearing of those ligaments, and no fracture.”

Giant Oak, who remains in the Lexington area, will receive therapy and will have another series of tests performed in a couple of weeks.

“That will give us a better picture of the time off he’ll need in order to make it back to the races,” Block said.

Five-year-old Giant Oak, winner of the Grade 1 Donn this past winter, had been scheduled to race in the Clark Handicap at Churchill, a race he won via disqualification in 2010. The Tarras have planned to bring Giant Oak back for a 2012 racing campaign, and will still do so if his injury permits a timely return.

Solid crew in Sunday feature

Afford, a 2-year-old Jim Tafel homebred trained by Greg Geier, looked good winning a Nov. 16 maiden race by seven lengths at Hawthorne, and that, in turn, makes Frankie Is Rock look pretty good in the featured sixth race Sunday at Hawthorne.

Frankie Is Rock has a turf-route pedigree, being by Rock Hard Ten and out of a Theatrical mare, but still won his career debut over Afford and eight others Oct. 29 in a six-furlong dirt sprint. His race Sunday is at 1 1/16 miles, a distance that might well suit Frankie Is Rock better than the sprint he already won.

Frankie Is Rock, trained by Rafael Flores for owner Jose Gonzalez, is one of eight horses in the race, and one of several win contenders. Rare Courage sprinted to a $25,000 debut win by seven lengths in his lone start, while Wee Alex, solid in his two dirt races so far, gets his first chance at a two-turn trip for which he’s bred. Silver Menace was one of many debut winners at Arlington for trainer Jim DiVito, and, like Rare Courage, is given a positive class boost to allowance competition in his second start. And Peter Louis was a solid turf-route maiden winner in his most recent outing, and might not have cared for a muddy racetrack in his only previous Hawthorne race.

Meier out of hospital

Jockey Brandon Meier was released from the hospital on Monday and is recuperating at home after suffering a lacerated liver and a collapsed lung in a spill Nov. 18 at Hawthorne, his father, former jockey Randy Meier, said Friday.

“They said he’s done riding for this year,” Randy Meier said. “It could take up to eight weeks for the liver to heal, but they said it’ll be all right.”