02/18/2011 5:23PM

Quiet Giant should get distance in Rare Treat


OZONE PARK, N.Y. − A year ago, trainer Todd Pletcher won the Rare Treat Stakes at Aqueduct with a late-blooming mare who went on to become a major player in the distaff division with two Grade 1 victories and two other graded scores before imploding in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.

It might be a stretch to think Quiet Giant − bred by the late Edward P. Evans and owned by his estate − could develop into another Life At Ten, but it’s also hard to fathom that Quiet Giant won’t give Pletcher back-to-back victories in the Rare Treat, which will be run for the 39th time Sunday at Aqueduct.

Coming off two overnight stakes victories going a mile on the inner track, Quiet Giant looks like a standout against four opponents in the Rare Treat, scheduled for 1 1/8 miles over the inner track. The Rare Treat will be run about 90 minutes before the Busher Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, in which Pletcher and the Evans estate will run Dance Quietly, a half-sister to Quiet Giant.

On Dec. 12, 2009, Life At Ten won an overnight stakes over the inner track by 1 3/4 lengths before coming back to win the Rare Treat. On Dec. 12, 2010, Quiet Giant won the Cheap Seats Stakes by 8 3/4 lengths before coming back to take the Lady on the Run by three lengths Jan. 16.

Though the Rare Treat will be the farthest Quiet Giant has run, her connections believe nine furlongs is in her wheelhouse because she is a daughter of Giant’s Causeway. Jonathan Thomas, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, said Quiet Giant’s running style and the way she trains in the morning also suggest she can go that far.

“There is every reason to think that the added distance will be to her advantage,” he said.

Thomas said one of the key differences between Quiet Giant and Life At Ten is their attitude.

“Life At Ten really touted herself,” Thomas said. “This filly is low key. She shows up for work, trains well everyday, and just goes about her business.”

Thomas said a victory in the Rare Treat could earn Quiet Giant a trip out of town for a graded race. While Life At Ten scored her first graded victory in the Sixty Sails at Hawthorne, Quiet Giant will have to go elsewhere since the Sixty Sails has not been scheduled this spring at Hawthorne.

If there is to be an upset in the Rare Treat, perhaps Opus A has the best chance. A 4-year-old New York-bred filly, Opus A won a second-level statebred allowance by six lengths Jan. 20, her second start after coming back from a year layoff. As a 2-year-old, Opus A won the East View Stakes by 4 1/2 lengths over the inner track.

Icabad Crane may travel

After Icabad Crane won Thursday’s $60,000 G’Day Mate Stakes, which trainer Graham Motion called “the best race he’s ever run,” the New York-bred could be headed for a sterner test and more lucrative payday in his next start.

“It’s very much on my mind,” Motion said about a start against open company.

Among the possibilities is the $1 million Charles Town Classic on April 16. That race has been deemed a Grade 3 race this year for the first time. Motion had talked about trying Icabad Crane in a graded race after his victory in the Alex M. Robb Handicap, but said, “Nothing really suited him. Plus, it’s hard to sneeze at $60,000 when you’re going to be one of the favorites with just a couple of hours ship.”

In the G’Day Mate, Icabad Crane stalked the pace before making a three-wide bid approaching the stretch and finishing the race more professionally than he ever had before. His 2 1/4-length score was his largest margin of victory. He earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

“He looked like he was kind of playing with them,” Motion said.

Meanwhile, Motion said Whirlaway Stakes winner Toby’s Corner is on schedule for his return engagement in the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham Stakes here March 5. Toby’s Corner has simply been galloping and will have one work, probably next weekend, before the Gotham.

Hushion seeks sixth Hollie Hughes

Trainer Mike Hushion seeks his sixth victory in the Hollie Hughes Stakes when he sends out Rereadthefootnotes, last year’s winner of this race, in Monday’s 33rd renewal of the six-furlong race for New York-breds.

Hushion won the 1998 Hollie Hughes with Thepromonroe and then took three consecutive runnings from 2003-05 with Papua. Last year, Rereadthefootnotes won by 3 1/2 lengths in front-running fashion. He later developed a reoccurrence of an ankle injury that has plagued him before.

Rereadthefootnotes has a long worktab, leading Hushion to believe the horse will be fit. Rereadthefootnotes will break from post 3 under Channing Hill.

Trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole entered Driven by Solar and Driven by Success in the Hollie Hughes. Both horses are also entered in the Grade 2 General George at Laurel on the same day. Driven by Solar is 5 for 9 over the inner track and seeks his first stakes win. Driven by Success is a multiple stakes winner but has not done his best work over the inner track.

Others entered include Be Bullish, Heavenly Blaze, and Smokin Hero.

With Aqueduct open for racing Monday, the track will be dark for live racing next Tuesday and Wednesday.