05/25/2009 11:00PM

Plans for Giant Oak are obvious

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Four-Footed Fotos
Giant Oak will remain at Arlington for the American Derby and Secretariat.P

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Chris Block is an Arlington Park kind of guy, and there is little doubt where Giant Oak will make his next start after impressively winning the Arlington Classic here last Saturday. Sure, there are scads of 3-year-old turf money out on the table at Colonial Downs, which has two rich races, the Colonial Turf Cup and the Virginia Derby. But Arlington has the $300,000 American Derby on July 11 and the $500,000 Secretariat on Aug. 8, and if Giant Oak were to win both, he would earn owners Rudy and Virginia Tarra a $500,000 bonus, too.

"I don't think there's any sense in trying to do anything besides the American Derby with him," Block said Tuesday. "He's run well off some gaps in his form, and this really sets up nicely. We'll keep him fresh, get him to the American Derby, and then you've got four weeks to the Secretariat."

Strict adherents to metrics like Beyer Speed Figures won't see Giant Oak as a Grade 1 player. Giant Oak earned only a 93 Beyer while beating a longshot named No Inflation by one length. But a closer look at the Arlington Classic hints at a powerful performance. The early pace Saturday was pedestrian, with favored Golden Mexico going the first half-mile in 49.22 seconds. Where was Giant Oak then? Near the back of the pack, close to 10 lengths off the lead, while No Inflation tracked the pacesetter. The leader after three-quarters tripped the timer in 1:13.75, meaning the race's final 2 1/2 furlongs went in a quick 29.84 seconds. Giant Oak still was several lengths behind after six furlongs, meaning he finished, really, really fast.

"I was anxious to see him run, and I think what we saw was a horse that when he gets clear sailing and the right trip, he can throw a big race," Block said.

Giant Oak now is 2 for 2 on the Arlington turf course, and has 3 wins and a second from 4 starts under jockey Eddie Razo.

Next target uncertain for Euphony

Arlington-based Euphony came out of her game win in the Matron Stakes, her first graded victory, in fine condition, and could be pointed to any number of spots, trainer Donnie Von Hemel said Tuesday.

"Everything looks in order after the race," said Von Hemel. "We're currently just kind of looking over where she could run."

Euphony now has won 8 of 10 races in her career, and has victories on turf, dirt, and synthetic tracks. But Von Hemel specifically mentioned two dirt races as possible for Euphony, the Fleur de Lis on June 13 at Churchill, and the Iowa Distaff on June 27.

"We haven't really decided anything yet," Von Hemel said.

Von Hemel echoed what jockey Cliff Berry said of Euphony after the Matron; that the filly is unusually intelligent.

"She's just quiet as a mouse around the barn, takes care of herself on the racetrack," Von Hemel said. "She's the most mild-mannered good horse I've ever been around."

Karlsson escapes serious injury

Jockey Inez Karlsson had body-soreness on Tuesday, but was lucky to escape more serious injury from a spill in the seventh race on Monday at Arlington. Karlsson hit the Polytrack when her mount, Parade Summer Girl, broke down at about the eighth pole in the seventh race. Jockey Uriel Lopez, who wasn't hurt in the wreck, probably helped keep Karlsson from sustaining a more severe injury by essentially hurdling the fallen horse and rider with trailing Courtwright.

"Uriel saved her," said Karlsson's agent, Penny Ffitch-Heyes. "She called him last night to thank him."

Ffitch-Heyes said it was too early to tell if Karlsson would be ready to ride when racing resumes Thursday at Arlington, but said she intended to name Karlsson on horses when entries for Saturday were taken Wednesday.

Campbell to resume riding Thursday

Still another rider, Jesse Campbell, was off his mounts Monday after spending part of Sunday night in the hospital. Campbell had just ridden Pathway to a win in Sunday's fifth race when, for the second time in recent months, he began to feel weak, dizzy, and short of breath. Campbell didn't make it back to the winner's circle, and wound up in the hospital, where a battery of tests revealed no obvious problems. Campbell was treated for dehydration and released, and said he planned to ride here again Thursday.

Campbell said he also feels the weight of the spill on Saturday that seriously injured Rene Douglas, who remains in the intensive-care unit of Northwestern Hospital in Chicago after undergoing seven-hour back and neck surgery early Sunday morning.

"Me and Rene are very close, and I've been stressing over that," said Campbell.