Hawthorne Racecourse (10/5/11)
Contact: Jim Miller
Giant Oak Heads Stellar Field of 10 for Hawthorne Gold Cup
STICKNEY, IL – Reigning Illinois-bred Horse of the Year and multiple Grade I winner Giant Oak heads a field of 10 for the 75th running of the Grade II $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup. To be contested on the dirt at 1 ¼ miles, the Gold Cup will go as the 9th race on the Saturday Hawthorne Card with a 5:45 pm post time.
Owned and bred by recently named National Small Breeder of the Year by TOBA Rudy and Virginia Tarra (Virginia H. Tarra Turst), Giant Oak has gained a massive following locally along with nationwide. Trained by Chris Block, Giant Oak has posted five victories from 29 starts for more than $1.4 million in earnings. To his credentials, Giant Oak posted back-to-back victories in the Grade I Clark Handicap at Churchill last fall and the Grade I Donn Handicap at Gulfstream this past February. With regular rider Shaun Bridgmohan injured, Jesus Castanon picks up the call on Giant Oak Saturday.
Recently third to top mare Havre de Grace in the Grade I Woodward, Rule looks to provide stiff competition for Giant Oak. Trainer Todd Pletcher has had tons of past success at Hawthorne, winning the Gold Cup in 2008 with Fairbanks along with three Illinois Derby wins at Hawthorne (Pollard’s Vision – 2004, Cowtown Cat – 2007, and Joe Vann – 2010). Rule was on the path to three-year-old stardom with a win at two in the Delta Jackpot (Grade III) and then a three-year-old win in the Sam F Davis (Grade III), and then was third in the Florida Derby (Grade I) in 2010. After some time away, he has returned to form, winning the Birdstone at Saratoga, before running third in the Woodward. Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, Rule will be ridden by Corey Lanerie.
Chris Block has a second runner in the Gold Cup who could also be a factor as Lothenbach Stables, Inc. sends out Mister Marti Gras. A model of consistency on turf, Mister Marti Gras recently showed his ability on the Polytrack, winning the Grade III Washington Park Handicap at Arlington on September 3. A five-time winner on his career, Mister Marti Gras has earned more than $416,000.
Another solid factor is Grade III Cornhusker winner Headache. Owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker, Headache is a seven-time winner of more than $468,000. He was impressive in victory in the Cornhusker, knocking off Grade I winner Awesome Gem in that spot, and recently closed to finish fifth following a troubled start in the Grade I Whitney. Headache will be ridden by Paco Lopez.
Trainer Gerard Butler has a fine four-year-old filly taking her shot at the Gold Cup as Maristar looks to come running late. Following a strong score against allowance company at Arlington in July, Maristar overcame a tight trip in the Washington Park to finish third before being moved to second. Maristar will be ridden in the Gold Cup by Florent Geroux.
Grade II $500,000 Hawthorne Gold Cup Handicap - October 8 – Race 9 – 1 ¼ Miles Main Track
||A. Stall, Jr.
||Mister Marti Gras
Hawthorne Race Course opens for live racing on Saturday, October 1 and races live through Saturday December 31. Live racing will be conducted five days a week, racing Wednesday-Sunday. Live racing will also take place on Monday, December 26. First post daily is 1:35 pm. On Fridays through November 25, first post will be 3:00 pm. Hawthorne Race Course is located in Stickney IL at 3501 S. Laramie Ave. For information on live racing or groups at Hawthorne Race Course, contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700 or visit Hawthorne online at www.Hawthorneracecourse.com.