07/20/2007 11:00PM

Red Giant upsets Virginia Derby

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Jeff Coady/Coady Photography
Red Giant (3) gets up in time to defeat Strike a Deal by a nose in the American Derby, paying $76.

Todd Pletcher won the $1 million Virginia Derby on Saturday, but not with the colt most horseplayers thought he would.

Red Giant, a 37-1 outsider and one of three Pletcher runners in a field of 10 3-year-olds, was up in the final strides to nail Strike a Deal by a nose at the finish of the Grade 2 Virginia Derby, the showcase race of the Colonial Downs meet in New Kent, Va.

Among the horses Red Giant defeated was his Pletcher stablemate, Circular Quay, who finished sixth as the 9-5 favorite in his grass debut. Pletcher, who was represented by assistant Ginny DiPasquale, also started Top Cross, who ran last at 22-1.

Horacio Karamanos, the perennial leading rider at Colonial, was aboard Red Giant, a Giant's Causeway colt owned by Peachtree Stable.

"I am very happy, because this is my home and this is my meet," said Karamanos.

Inca King set the pace in the 1 1/4-mile Virginia Derby before giving way to Strike a Deal leaving the final turn. Down the stretch, Strike a Deal, ridden by Ramon Dominguez, gave his all, only to get nipped.

"It was about as close as it gets," said Dominguez. "It's disappointing."

Red Giant, winner of the Restoration Stakes at Monmouth Park in his previous start, returned $76 after finishing in a course-record 1:59.62 over firm turf. The colt now has won 4 of 5 starts on turf.

Soldier's Dancer, a 22-1 shot, finished third, four lengths behind the top pair. Summer Doldrums, winner of the Colonial Cup last month, finished fourth. Duveen, the 4-1 second choice, lost virtually all chance by spotting the field almost 10 lengths at the start.

In earlier action Saturday, Dreaming of Anna ($8.40) returned to the elite of the 3-year-old filly division by leading every step of the $210,000 Virginia Oaks.

Ridden by E.T. Baird, Dreaming of Anna set an even pace while chased closest by Christmas Kid. Down the stretch, while none of the back runners could make an impact, Christmas Kid failed to keep up while Dreaming of Anna edged away. At the wire, Dreaming of Anna had a half-length on New Edition, a 25-1 shot who raced in third for most of the way. Christmas Kid, the 5-2 second choice, wound up third, another two lengths back, while Bit of Whimsy, the 2-1 favorite, was fourth in a field of 12.

Based in Chicago with owner Frank Calabrese and trainer Wayne Catalano, Dreaming of Anna had not won a race of significance since she capped an unbeaten 2-year-old season with a triumph in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies last November.

Also earlier, Jungle Fighter ($10.60), ridden by Karamanos, held off a steady stretch run from favored Karelian to win the $60,000 Kitten's Joy by a half-length.