Giant Oak earns 2nd Grade 1 win in Donn Handicap
Giant Oak unleashed a powerful stretch rally to capture the Grade 1 $500,000 Donn Handicap by two lengths over Morning Line at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
The son of Giant's Causeway covered the 1 1/8-mile in 1:48.23 with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard to earn $16.80, $7.20 and $4.20. Morning Line paid $5.00 and $3.40, and Rule was a nose back in third to return $2.60.
''I had a good feeling going into the race,'' said winning trainer Chris Block. ''I've never seen him get up into the bridle the way he did today.''
Favorite Fly Down was coming off a third-place finish behind Blame and Horse of the Year Zenyatta in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, but never factored and finished fifth.
Bridgmohan was happy to see his mount finally coming of age.
''He's just really growing up,'' Bridgmohan said. ''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 he's finally getting to show it.''
The Grade 1 win was the second straight for Giant Oak, who won the Clark at Churchill Downs via disqualification on Nov. 26.
The 5-year-old improved to 5-5-3 in 24 career starts, with the $300,000 winner's share pushing his career earnings to over $1.2 million.
In earlier Grade 1 action, 25-1 shot Teaks North won the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in 1:46.39.
The 4-year-old son of Northern Afleet trained by Justin Sallusto and ridden by Jose Valdivia Jr. earned his first Grade 1 victory by taking the 1 1/8-mile turf event by a nose over Smart Bid. Get Stormy was third.
Teaks North paid $52.60, $19.20 and $10.20, Smart Bid returned $9.00 and $5.80, and Get Stormy earned $5.40. The exacta paid $423.60.
Even-money favorite Battle of Hastings was never a factor in finishing fourth.