Sunday, February 06, 2011


Giant Oak Wins $500,000 Donn Handicap


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Virginia H. Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak drove down Gulfstream’s stretch Saturday to win the 53rd-running of the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) by two lengths over a game Morning Line.

Rule finished third, I Want Revenge fourth and favored Fly Down was fifth.


Giant Oak, placed first Nov. 26 through a disqualification in the Clark Handicap (G1), covered the 1 1/8th-miles in 1:48.23. Trained by Chris Block and ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan, Giant Oak’s victory was his fifth in 24 starts and boosted his career earnings to $1.25 million.

While Morning Line and Square Eddie dueled through early fractions of :23.36, :47.73 and 1:10.50, Bridgmohan allowed Giant Oak to rate off the pace before angling out at the top of the stretch and taking the lead inside the final sixteenth from a game Morning Line.

Trainer Chris Block (Giant Oak): “After the Clark (Handicap) we decided to give him a break and he spent three weeks on a farm in Ocala before coming down here. He never seemed care for the track in New Orleans that much (Fair Grounds), so between that and the fact that this race is a Grade 1, we decided to point him for this race. Also, he’s Giant’s Causeway and I think he’s just gotten better with age and maturation as that line seems to do. He trained very well over track and seemed to like the change of scenery. I had a good feeling going into the race. I’ve never seen him get up into the bridle the way he did today. We’ll talk about the options, including Dubai (World Cup), and make a decision with the owners.”

Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan (Giant Oak): “There was plenty of speed in the race so I was able to sit back and ride a patient race. He’s just really growing up. He’s come such a long way. It’s so good to see because he’s always had a ton of ability and I’m happy that’s he’s finally getting to show that.”

Jockey John Velazquez (Morning Line): “I was hoping the other horse [Square Eddie] would go to the lead so I could set up right outside of him but he never cleared so I had to stay in there and keep my position at the rail. I had to defend my spot. After that, he ran a heck of a race. I just wish I had a better post position.”

Jockey Javier Castellano (Rule): “The race set up perfectly. I had a perfect trip sitting behind a two-horse speed duel. I just have to give credit to the winner and Morning Line is a [game] horse. My horse fought all the way to the wire and we just lost second at the last second. I am really happy with how he ran.”


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