Giant Oak Takes Rough and Tumble 136th Clark Handicap Via Disqualification of Favored Successful Dan

Nov 27, 2010 by Gary Yunt

The Virginia H Tarra Trust’s Giant Oak was elevated to first place on the disqualification of Successful Dan in a roughly run stretch battle to win the 136th running of the $564,000 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GI) for 3-year-olds and up on Friday afternoon at Churchill Downs.

Successful Dan, who covered the 1 1/8 miles on a fast main track in 1:50.82, had finished a head in front of Giant Oak, but because of interference with Redding Colliery in the upper stretch, was disqualified and placed third. It was the first disqualification in the Clark since Quest was elevated above Evening Attire in the 2003 running.

Giant Oak’s victory completed a Falls City Handicap-Clark Handicap double for jockey Shaun Bridgmohan and trainer Chris Block, who had teamed the day before to win the Grade II Falls City with Dundalk Dust.

It marked the first time since 2005 that the same rider-trainer combo had swept the two races with Indian Vale winning the Falls City and Magna Graduate the Clark under John Velazquez for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Regal Ransom led the field of 11 through fractions of :24.64, :48.92 and 1:13.63 while Successful Dan and Redding Colliery raced in mid pack with Giant Oak far back. Turning for home, Duke of Mischief moved past Regal Ransom with Dubious Miss and Demarcation moving with him.

Just behind the leaders, Julien Leparoux on Successful Dan moved out and bumped Redding Colliery, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, for racing room and Giant Oak began to advance with a seven-wide rally.

To the inside of Successful Dan, Demarcation, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, swerved inside impeding Dubious Miss and Duke of Mischief.

With clear sailing on the outside, Successful Dan and Giant Oak raced as a team to the wire. Redding Colliery was another four lengths back in third, finishing a head in front of Demarcation, who was disqualified and placed last.

The victory was worth $328,700 and increased the 4-year-old homebred son of Giant Causeway’s bankroll to $956,677 with a record of 4-5-3 from 23 starts.

Giant Oak returned $24.20, $10 and $5. Redding Colliery returned $6 and $3.80 with Successful Dan paying $3 to show. The revised order of finish was Win Willy, Duke of Mischief, Brass Hat, Apart, Regal Ransom, Stately Victor, Dubious Miss and Demarcation.

Racing continues Saturday with a 12-race “Stars of Tomorrow II” program exclusively for 2-year-olds with first post time of 12:40 p.m. (all times Eastern). Highlighting the program are two Grade II stakes: the 67th running of the $150,000-added Golden Rod for fillies, which goes as the ninth race (4:42 p.m. post time), and the 84th running of the $150,000-added Kentucky Jockey Club, which goes as the 11th race (5:42 p.m. post time). Saturday's card will feature a four-day Pick 6 carryover of $21,555 on races 7-12. There also is a $6,201 carryover on the Super Hi-5 in the 12th race.


Shaun Bridgmohan (jockey, Giant Oak, placed first from second after disqualification of Successful Dan from first to third): “I was right outside of it all. I saw what was happening. I thought both horses ran hard to the wire. It was all out of my hands. I was hoping I got put up. Both horses ran hard. It’s just unfortunate things like this happen in racing. If he shows up and gives it to you there is no telling how much talent this horse has. I always tell Chris (Block, trainer) one of these days he is going to show up and it just happened to be in a Grade One today.”

Chris Block (trainer, Giant Oak, placed first from second after disqualification of Successful Dan from first to third): “This has been a long time comin’.  This ol’ horse has had a rough, rough go of it.  He’s had some rough trips, but we’ve always known he loved Churchill Downs and I really felt good about today.  The horse trained really great from (Breeders’ Cup) Marathon to this.  His two works were just really, really good here.  I felt coming into it if the pace was solid, and it was OK, I knew he’d come with his run.  We just need him to finish the race. (Jockey) Shaun (Bridgmohan) said today even when he got up to that horse (Successful Dan) he put his head up and just kind of hung with that horse instead of finishing the deal.  But this is sweet to get.  This is very sweet to get.”

Q: Even if he had not won, he was right there with a very good horse in Successful Dan. “Absolutely. I was very proud of him win, lose or draw.  I’d even told Mr. Tarra that Successful Dan, to me, was the horse to beat.  If he’d have been second to him, I’d been real proud of him as I am proud of him for getting kissed up there.”

Q: He seems to be getting better with age – will he be back next year? “Oh yeah, he’s coming back next year.  No doubt about it.  He’s the kind of horse we always thought he’d get better with age, and I think that’s what’ll happen with him.”

Q: Considering all the trouble this horse has had, is it almost ironic that this is how he was able to win …“It is.  It really is amazing to me.  I’ll be very honest with you.  I saw that horse (Redding Colliery) come out, but I thought he came out on his own.  I didn’t know Successful Dan pushed him out like that.  But it is ironic that it finished up like this.”

Q: Was his run in the Marathon a disappointment to you? “It was a disappointment.  I think Garrett (jockey Garrett Gomez) and I kind of got our paths crossed, our communication crossed up from where we actually wanted him.  I thought he was a little further back than what I wanted, and I think Garrett thought I actually wanted him back a little bit and to come with a finish.  And then he ended up wide all the way around there.  But he came out of it so good that I thought, well, we’re going to wheel him right back in here.”

Q: You’ve won three stakes this meet and all with Illinois-breds.  We’re not sure if anyone else has ever pulled off that hat trick … “It’s awful sweet to have these guys come down here and run as good as they have.  They all set up really well for these races and I just glad to be here at Churchill Downs, to be honest with you.”

Q: Where does this rank in career thrills for you? “It ranks right there at the top.  (2006 Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup winner) Vacare was my first Grade I stakes winner and this guy, we’ve worked so hard getting him where he’s at today, so it has to rank right there with her.”

Q: When you have a horse like this, do you just have to remind yourself sometime that you have to just hang with the horse? “Absolutely. I take my hat off to Mr. and Mrs. Tarra.  They put this horse in my barn.  They bred him, raised him.  They turned down a lot of money for him as a 2-year-old to do what we did today.  They love racing, they love the horse, they love horse racing and I really have to give them a lot of credit for sticking behind the horse.  We’ve had a lot of frustrating conversations, but today it’s sweet to get this one.”

Q: Do you have a winter plan? “He’s going to Ocala on Sunday for probably about 45 days rest, then probably back to Fair Grounds to get him ready for 2011.

Rosie Napravnik (jockey, Redding Colliery, placed second after disqualification of Successful Dan from first to third): “It was kind of a rough ride all the way around.  He got slammed and he came on and finished just as strong as he wanted to.”

Q:  If it was rough all the way around, the head of the stretch was very tough … “Yeah.  He slammed me pretty hard.  He knocked us completely off stride and I don’t see how they couldn’t take him down.”

Q: Do you think you had a chance to win at that point? “Yeah, we were coming around and he was making up ground.”

Kiaran McLaughlin (trainer, Redding Colliery, placed second after disqualification of Successful Dan from first to third, via telephone): “It was a rough-run race for a lot of horses.  I was watching our horse mostly, and he had a rough trip.  But I thought Rosie (jockey Anna Napravnik) rode him well.  He switched off down the backside and then made a nice run turning for home and got bumped hard twice by the eventual winner that was taken down (Successful Dan).  But it was a rough run for a few horses and we’re happy that we got put up to second and we’re a Grade I horse.  We’ve had a great year with our horse and we’ll move forward.”

Q: He has really come into his own and proven he is a top rank horse – what is the plan for 2011? “He is a top horse.  We’ll go to Florida with him and look at the [Grade I] Donn Handicap and maybe the Dubai World Cup (GI).  He’s been a really useful horse for us and we’ve had a lot of fun with him all year, and we’re happy that we got put up into second.  I thought it was a gutsy call by the stewards, and the correct call.”

Q: Do you think he had a chance to win without the bumping? “He was wide throughout, so it was kind of just a rough-run race.  You never know, it’s hard to say.  But he was running and gaining, but I don’t know that he was going to win.  But he definitely got bothered.”

Julien Leparoux (jockey, Successful Dan, disqualified from first to third): “I need to take a look at what happened. I just got slammed all over.”

Charlie Lopresti (trainer, Successful Dan, disqualified from first to third): “It’s a bad call.  It’s a very bad call.”

Q: You thought your horse was hit from the inside and forced out …“My horse got knocked over. That’s a terrible call. I mean, up there in the stretch that horse came over on us and knocked us into the other horse (Redding Colliery). And then after that, we’re clearly the winner.”

Q: He did run a huge race as you expected he would … “He ran a huge race. What can I say?  I can’t say anything else.”

Kent Desormeaux (jockey, Demarcation, disqualified to 11th): “He really faded for me at the three-sixteenths pole, ducked to the rail a little bit. I had to straighten him and lost a lot of momentum. It cost me third.”

Paul McGee (trainer, Dubious Miss, placed 10th, and Demarcation, disqualified from fourth to 11th): “There was some irony there due to the fact my two horses were doing the bumping down the stretch, so I didn’t like that part of the race. It sounded like (jockey) Robby (Albarado) got eliminated with Dubious Miss turning for home when he got bumped and had to check. Demarcation ran a good race, he always does, and he’s a consistent horse. I just wish Dubious Miss would have had a better opportunity.”


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