Giant Expectations on the rise
DEL MAR, Calif. – Giant Expectations has come a long way in one year.
At this time last year, Giant Expectations was fighting a lung infection that forced him out of training. He was a maiden with an uncertain future.
“We fooled around trying to get it under control,” trainer Peter Eurton recalled Sunday. “We weren’t getting anywhere. We probably wasted two months.”
Giant Expectations was a maiden until Memorial Day. Saturday at Del Mar, Giant Expectations won his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Pat O’Brien at seven furlongs. The win gave Giant Expectations an automatic berth to the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile here on Nov. 3.
Eurton said in the winner’s circle that stretching out to a mile in the Breeders’ Cup “could be good for him.”
Owned by Ryan Exline, Justin Border, and Dan Gatto, Giant Expectations has won 3 of 4 starts this year. A 4-yearold New York-bred colt, Giant Expectations won a maiden race for statebreds at Belmont Park on May 29 in his first start of the year, and an allowance race for statebreds there June 8. He was second in an optional claimer here at a mile July 19 in a prep for the Pat O’Brien.
“After two races in New York, I let him down a little bit,” Eurton said. “I didn’t do a lot with him coming into here.”
In the Pat O’Brien, Giant Expectations ($11.40) closed from sixth in a field of 10 to win by 1 1/2 lengths.
Eurton said Giant Expectations will be considered for the Grade 1 Santa Anita Sprint Championship on Oct. 7.
Stellar Wind may skip BC prep
Stellar Wind, the winner of consecutive Grade 1 races for fillies and mares in California, may not start again until the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Del Mar on Nov. 3.
Trainer John Sadler said over the weekend that Stellar Wind could benefit from a break of three months from her latest start, a win in the Grade 1 Clement Hirsch Stakes on July 30.
“Stellar Wind could train into the Breeders’ Cup,” Sadler said. “She runs so well fresh. I’m not 100 percent sure what we’ll do.”
If Sadler follows through with the plan, Stellar Wind will skip the Grade 1 Zenyatta Stakes at Santa Anita on Sept. 30, a race she won in 2016. In the 2016 BC Distaff at Santa Anita last November, Stellar Wind broke slowly and finished fourth behind the champions Beholder and Songbird.
Sadler might run Shenandoah Queen in the $300,000 Zenyatta. Shenandoah Queen, like Stellar Wind owned by Kosta and Pete Hronis, won her stakes debut last Friday in the $78,545 Tranquility Lake Stakes at Del Mar for fillies and mares at a mile on dirt.
Apprentice, 38, wins debut
Maria Falgione’s bucket list has one fewer item.
The 38-year-old apprentice jockey won with her first career mount when Tee Em Eye ($13.60) closed from off the pace in a $16,000 claimer at Del Mar on Saturday. After an awkward start, Tee Em Eye rallied five wide on the turn to take the lead in the final furlong.
“It’s the most incredible thing that’s happened to me,” Falgione said an hour after the win.
Falgione is a full-time exercise rider for Mike Machowsky, who trains Tee Em Eye.
After the race, Falgione was mobbed by friends in the winner’s circle and on the path toward the jockeys’ room, with many stopping her for photos and congratulations.
A native of South Carolina, Falgione has a lifelong background with horses, but has been an exercise rider for only three years. She worked as an actress, and at one time played the bride in “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.
Falgione and Machowsky began talking about starting her riding career earlier this year. Falgione was set to have her career debut earlier this month, only for her mount to be scratched. It’s unclear how frequently she will ride.
Spawr fined, suspended
Trainer Bill Spawr has been suspended 30 days and fined $3,000 as part of a settlement agreement with the California Horse Racing Board after Skye Diamonds showed an excessive amount of clenbuterol in a test taken after her second-place finish in the Grade 3 Adoration Stakes at Santa Anita on May 7.
The suspension begins Monday and continues through Sept. 26. Spawr is banned from the racetrack and stable area during the suspension. His barn will be run by his assistant, Darryl Rader.
Spawr, 77, was suspended for 60 days, but 30 days of the penalty was stayed provided Spawr does not have any positives for medications in classes 1, 2, or 3 through Aug. 25, 2018. Clenbuterol is a class 3 medication.
Giant Expectations, running a stakes for the first time, wins the Pat O’Brien on Saturday.