Illinois-bred and local Chicago favorite Giant Oak (Giant’s Causeway - Crafty Oak by Crafty Prospector) has retired from his illustrious racing career and will stand at stud at Millennium Farms in Lexington, KY. Let’s take a look back and celebrate the career of this champion!
Born on the same day as my daughter and Michael Jordan (February 17th), Giant Oak took no time to prove he was ready to run. As a two year old he not only won his maiden race at Arlington Park, he won his next race as well: an optional claimer. Both of those races were won in typical Giant Oak fashion by coming from the rear to close in for the win. He had one more good showing in his two-year-old season by finishing second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, losing just by a neck.
It may have taken Giant Oak a while to get going in his three-year-old season but he got progressively better to finally win the Arlington Classic after finishing second to Musket Man in the Illinois Derby the race before. In the same season he had a third place finish in the Honor Glide Stakes at Arlington and a second place finish in the Indiana Derby, yet again showing his versatility on the grass and the dirt.
Off again to a slow start in his four-year-old season Giant Oak finished 2010 with a bang. In his final four races of that year, he had a second place finish in the Washington Park Handicap losing only to Gran Estreno, a second place finish in the Hawthorne Gold Cup, a fourth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon (again showing his versatility in distance), finally capping off the season with a win in his second try at the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs (he actually lost by a neck but won via disqualification.)
His five-year-old season got off to a great start with a win in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, showing his class by beating some other great horses such as Morning Line, Rule, I Want Revenge, and Fly Down. Later last year he also had good runs in the New Orleans Handicap, the Whitney Invitational, and a good third place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon. However, a freak accident during training ended his chances to take another shot at the Clark Handicap.
(Giant Oak in the Donn Handicap)
I feel grateful that I had a chance to see Giant Oak run this year at Hawthorne (would have at Churchill too at the Breeders’ Cup but then there were these car troubles…). My son Gabriel joined me that day and even lists seeing him at Hawthorne as his favorite racing moment in his young life! When I told him just now that Giant Oak was retiring, he said, “aww, that sucks!”
So let’s take a moment to celebrate the great career of Giant Oak! What are your favorite memories of him?
Photos courtesy of Four Footed Fotos and Adam Coglianese