04/30/2013 4:33PM

Kentucky Derby: Giant Finish joins field on eve of draw

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Talk about Derby fever.

Less than 24 hours before entries were to close for Saturday’s $2 million Kentucky Derby, the connections of the New York-bred and Maryland-based Giant Finish announced they would enter the race.

Due to his third-place finish in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes on March 23 – his most recent start – Giant Finish has 10 qualifying points under the system used this year by Churchill Downs for Derby qualification and thus would knock Fear the Kitten to the also-eligible list. Fear the Kitten, whose connections announced Monday their intention to run when it looked like only 19 would enter, has only six points.

Entries for the Derby were due by 10 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday, with the post-position draw scheduled for 5 p.m. during a one-hour show broadcast on the NBC Sports Network. The field is limited to 20 starters, but 24 can enter, with four being placed on the also-eligible list.

Another horse, Carving, was being considered for the Derby as well, but after hearing that he would likely be relegated to second on the also-eligible list, his trainer, Mike Puhich, said he most likely would not enter.

Giant Finish, a son of Frost Giant trained by Tony Dutrow, won two of his first three starts, all against New York-bred competition at Aqueduct. Thereafter, he finished second in the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park and third there behind Kentucky Derby longshot Black Onyx in the Spiral. Both of those races were run on a synthetic surface.

Andrew Cohen, the breeder and part-owner of Giant Finish, owned part of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. Cohen said he was thinking about the Derby when he ran Giant Finish in the Spiral, but when the colt finished third, he didn’t think he would have enough points to get in.

“He’s by Frost Giant, I bred him, and it seems like these horses have a little special something,” said Cohen, who races under the name Sunrise Stables and owns Giant Finish along with Gary Tolchin, Aubrey Flanagan and Bob Smith. “They’re very competitive. They don’t quit. He’s improved each race. I know we’re going to be a longshot in there, but it’s horse racing.”

As of Tuesday, the horse was based at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland. He worked four furlongs in 49.40 seconds over the dirt track there last Thursday. Dutrow said Giant Finish was scheduled to leave Fair Hill by van Wednesday night and be at Churchill Downs on Thursday morning, making the deadline for Derby horses to be on the grounds.

“My clients wish to race, and obviously I’m going to honor their decision,” said Dutrow, who said he had been pointing the horse to an allowance race at Belmont and then perhaps the Belmont Stakes.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Cohen had not yet lined up a rider. Cornelio Velasquez had ridden Giant Finish in both of his victories, and Jose Espinoza rode him in the Spiral.

Before learning of the addition of Giant Finish, the connections of Carving were planning to ship their horse from Washington on Thursday with hopes of running in the Derby. Carving had only two points and would have been first on the also-eligible list.

Mark Dedomenico purchased that horse from Jill Baffert and Bode Miller after he ran sixth in the San Felipe Stakes in March. According to Puhich, who now trains Carving, a deal to sell a 50 percent stake in that horse to an undisclosed client was in the works Monday but was contingent on getting into the Derby, which is now unlikely.

“We’re leaving everything open till entry time,” Puhich said by phone Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not completely dead, but I’m pretty certain we’re not going to enter to be on the also-eligibles.”

m More than 1 year ago
Why would Tony D get someone to saddle the horse (per blood horse)? does he have a picnic to go to?
Tom Maloney More than 1 year ago
This race is about the owners' egos, and has very little to do with the actual horses or god forbid the players. The lucky trip and the lucky player will win, period. To a handicapper who recognizes the KD as a "chaos race" the undercard is a lot more interesting.
Albert More than 1 year ago
Now you know how to get a box on Derby day.
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
49 change work will not get the roses, much less a check !
Babette Cade More than 1 year ago
Congratulations to Mr. Cohen and the ownership group of Giant Finish. This is a grand looking horse and I hope he acquits himself well. This is horseracing, and it existed before the parimutuel. This entry will add some excitement for the fans of the sport. Thanks Mr. Cohen and I am hooking my fingers for a Giant Finish! What a sport you are.
NITTANYLYINAROUND More than 1 year ago
Being an exotics player, I'm fine with 20 starters. More starters = more value.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
But you don't care about the Horses do u>>
Alexander Danzig More than 1 year ago
Why do you assume Nittany does not care about horses? 20 starters makes a fun race. You might recall that the recent high profile breakdown of Eight Belles had nothing to do with traffic. The horses would not even exist without thrilling races like the KD to give people the incentive to go broke breeding and racing them. You don't care about the People do you?
B More than 1 year ago
Look at these people! Talk about Derby fever! At least Baffert found the cure for it this year. These are fools jeopardizing their own inferior horses while getting in the way & potentially causing interference with the better ones. They need to make this a 14 horse race and keep out the ones that don't deserve to be here.
Terry Culver More than 1 year ago
Do you remember a horse called "Mine That Bird"??! Like Cohen said..."it's horse racing"! Remember the Louisiana Derby from last year...wasn't the winner of that race like 137-1? Crazy things happen In horse racing all the time. Not saying this horse is going to win, or even come close...but you never know! That's what makes horse racing so special...that longshot that shocks everyone!
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Bafferts cure was inferior and infirm horses. Not to mention a recent aversion to cameras.
Biggar W More than 1 year ago
Ya. I'll bet we won't see Baffert on camera for a long time.
akhiym james More than 1 year ago
Man people complaining about a 20 horse field. There are some KY Derbies run with more than 20 horses. I think the max that's been in a KY Derby is 24 horses. Stop complaint it's the same in the big Derbies across the pond. Big fields with a lot of horses that don't belong but like the owner said its horse racing. Anything can happen
Mike More than 1 year ago
Wish I could book every dollar that's bet on him - I'd offer 500-1 to any sucker!
Mark More than 1 year ago
Anyone who would offer 500-1 can't possibly have the money to pay off in the unlikely event the horse wins the KY Derby. Due to all the novice action, I won't be surprised if Giant Finish goes off at 50-1 or even lower. Offering 10X higher than the horse's odds? What a putz!!!
Francisco Pannaci More than 1 year ago
Watch out !, Canonero II Ky. winner years ago would have been 500 -1 had not been for a coupled entry.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
I'm not for a 20 horse field, but why do so many people act like this is the first year there has ever been a 20 horse field. The horror of it all. So it's been many times before? Nevermind.