Giant Run captures $200,000 Centaur Stakes

Giant Run and “Jersey” Joe Bravo proved to be the toughest in a fine field of three-year-olds to grab the title in the 11th running of the $200,000-added Centaur Stakes Wednesday, Sept. 7 at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino. The race joins the Indiana Grand Stakes as the richest turf races for the state of Indiana and always draws some big names in the sport of Thoroughbred racing.

Giant Run and Joe Bravo rally home as winners of Indiana's biggest turf race of the year, the $200,000-added Centaur Stakes Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Giant Run and Joe Bravo rally home as winners of Indiana’s biggest turf race of the year, the $200,000-added Centaur Stakes Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Photo by Linscott Photography)

Giant Run started his journey from post seven in the 10-horse lineup of the Centaur Stakes and used just enough early speed to keep up with the four horses that had their sights set on the pacesetter position. Pilot House and Francisco Torres were the first to get the call from the center of the track but they were quickly joined by Holding Gold and Florent Geroux along the inside, Back Togetheragain and Rodney Prescott on the outside, and Uncle Brennie and Chris Landeros between horses. Quick fractions of :23.51, :46.91 and 1:10.95 were placed on the board by Pilot House before the late closers came into view heading into the final turn.

Giant Run had picked up his speed in mid-turn and carried that momentum into the stretch drive. He angled to the outside and took on the ones left on the front for the final quarter-mile. Bravo went to work on the chestnut son of Giant’s Causeway. Halfway through the stretch, it was evident the only threat Giant Run would receive would be in the form of the late closers who were in full force. Both Surgical Strike and Zapperini were closing in as quickly as they could but Giant Run fended them off, winning the race by three-quarters of a length at the wire. Surgical Strike and James Graham won the battle for second by a head over Zapperini and Corey Lanerie. The final time of the race was 1:35.68.

“Every race, you learn more and more about a horse and I probably learned the most about this horse (Giant Run) when I rode him in at Gulfstream and finished second (in the Grade III $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes),” said Bravo. “He has a good kick at the end so we wanted to let the others go on early and then close. We got a great trip today.”

Giant Run paid $6.80, $3.60, $3.60 across the board as the race favorite. He earned his fourth win in eight starts for 2016 and increased his career bankroll to more than $350,000 with his win in the Centaur Stakes. Giant Run, a $200,000 Keeneland Yearling Sale purchase, is owned by Robert Baker and William Mach and trained by Tom Albertrani, who is based at Belmont Park.

“He (Giant Run) has high natural cruising speed so the game plan was to sit off the leaders,” said Dan Stupp, assistant trainer for Albertrani. “We didn’t know four horses would go out for the lead, so that was a bit of a surprise. Our game plan was to give him a target and sit off the speed. Joe did a great job of getting him to relax early and then timed his move just right.”

The win with Giant Run marked the first stakes win for both Bravo and Albertrani at Indiana Grand. Bravo, who has more than 5,100 career victories, just completed the meet at Saratoga. The multiple Graded Stakes winning jockey has numerous titles to his credit in his home state of New Jersey at The Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. He rides at Gulfstream Park during the winter. Albertrani, also a multiple Graded Stakes winning trainer, has been among the country’s top trainers since 2000. He is best known for his 2006 Preakness win with Bernardini, who has gone onto a successful career as a sire. Many horses that race on the Indiana circuit are offspring of Bernardini, who stands in Kentucky.