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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Giant Oak Rolls from Bridesmaid to Star of the Week

How does a horse go from finishing first in one out of nineteen starts the past two calendar years to becoming one of the most respected older horses in the country in a time span of less than two minutes? Yesterday we found the answer, as the long untapped potential of Giant Oak exploded down the Gulfstream Park stretch, and in so doing, rocketed his name up the early list of potential Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders.
 
Virginia H. Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak is a five-year-old Illinois bred son of Giant's Causeway, out of Crafty Oak, by Crafty Prospector. He became a grade one winner late last Fall when his number was placed first by Churchill stewards in the Clark Handicap, after race winner Successful Dan was disqualified for bothering others in the field. It was not exactly the way anyone wants to earn their first grade one, but for a horse who was 0 for 9 going into the race, it was a most welcome mark in the win column. Yesterday’s Donn erased all doubts as to whether he was actually a legitimate grade one horse though, as he blitzed the leaders down the lane to score by two lengths under rider Shaun Bridgmohan. The decisive rallying victory came at the expense of high class horses like Morning Line, Rule, I Want Revenge, and Fly Down.  Including the Clark placed first, it is the first time Giant Oak has put together consecutive wins since the first two races of his life two and a half years ago.
 
That was the thing about Giant Oak. He looks great, and would often show flashes of real ability, but he just would not win. That appears to  be changing. In winning for the 5th time in 24 lifetime starts, Giant Oak finally fulfilled potential that many had seen in the attractive well bred colt since those debut races so long ago. He also raised his now impressive career bankroll to $1,256,677. He is also now clearly in the best form of his life, and with the ability to run well on any surface, and handle any distance, there is no telling what heights the Chris Block trained horse might reach in 2011. The way he easily handled some of the best older horses in the nation in yesterday’s grade one affair was an eye-opener.
 
 
In fact, I was so impressed with Giant Oak’s performance in the Donn, that he earns the nod as ZATT’s Star of the Week, and considering the impressiveness in which Twirling Candy displayed in winning the Strub, this is high praise indeed.

 

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Older Comments about Giant Oak Rolls from Bridesmaid to Star of the Week...

Zatt, I absolutely agree with you that IWR ran well (I didn't mean to give the impression I thought he ran lousy - sometimes sharing thoughts in print doesn't always come out the way I want it to!) I had hoped to see his connections start conversatively and work him up. Of course, they aren't interested in my opinion! HA
Point well taken Mike, this could be the year where the 3-year-olds take it to their elders later this year. I am especially thinking of one in particular ;-) RL, I thought I Want Revenge ran quite well in the Donn, all things considered.
I'm really happy for Giant Oak. I felt bad for Square Eddie but the only question I have is - why do the connections of I Want Revenge continue to throw him into Grade 1 races after such a long layoff? You would think they would start him off in something he could win easily to build up stamina and confidence.
Giant Oak might turn into a pretty good horse, but the impression I got after watching the Donn was that this group of older horses is not very strong. I doubt if the Breeders Cup winner will come out of the Donn. With the retirement of Blame, Quality Road and Lookin at Lucky, Twirling Candy could be the best older horse and he looks like he could have distance limitations. The 3 years olds could dominate the fall races and the Breeders Cup this year.
It was very easy, and against good horses. I am not sure this will start a winning streak for him, but he is certainly running the best of his life right now.
He did't just win he won going away easily,never touched 1:48:1/5
Underachieving horse finally makes good, but I am going to have to see him actually win a few in a row before I get too excited.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.