Giant Expectations has made a significant impact in recent years on Del Mar’s Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2), but less so on the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1), for which Saturday’s $150,000 renewal serves as a “Win & You’re In” prep.
Winner of the Pat O’Brien in 2017 and second by a head to Catalina Cruiser in last year’s edition, the Peter Eurton-trained 7-year-old returns has popped up for his third swing at the 7-furlong dash having not started since being an eased-up last of 10 in the Dirt Mile at Santa Anita on Nov. 2. The son of Frost Giant finished fifth in the 2019 Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs and sixth in the 2018 running at Del Mar.
Giant Expectations completed preparations for his comeback last weekend, speeding a half-mile in :47.60.
“Giant did what we wanted,” said Eurton of the workout. The red-hot Umberto Rispoli will ride for the first time on Saturday.
Flagstaff captured the San Carlos (G2) in March before finishing a fast-closing second to Whitmore in the Count Fleet Sprint H. (G3) at Oaklawn. However, the Speightstown gelding looks to rebound off a relatively dull fourth in the June 7 Triple Bend (G2).
C Z Rocket enters off three straight overnight wins in Kentucky since being claimed by Peter Miller for $40,000 in April, while multiple Grade 3 winner Law Abidin Citizen aims to improve off a third-place run in the Bing Crosby (G1) over 6 furlongs earlier this month.
The only sophomore lining up is Vertical Threat, who enters with a 2-for-3 record. Both victories have been blowout ones, though, the latest being a 5 1/4-length romp on the restricted Smiling Tiger S. on July 25. The last two 3-year-olds to win the Pat O’Brien were The Factor (2011) and Zensational (2009).