The San Antonio wasn’t the target for Collected, but the prep for the target: the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) Jan. 27 at Gulfstream Park. It was a scenario similar to Arrogate’s fourth-place run as the heavy favorite in the TVG San Diego Handicap (G2) ahead of the TVG Pacific Classic (G1).
In the San Antonio, Speedway Stable’s Collected went off at 1-5, but like his Bob Baffert-trained stablemate in the San Diego, fired a dull effort in the 1 1/16-mile test, as 13-1 longshot Giant Expectations set an unexpected slow early pace and kicked away from the field in the stretch to win by 3 1/4 lengths.
Collected, who has been up or near the lead in the majority of his previous 12 starts—raced in last in the five-horse field in the backstretch, as Giant Expectations logged fractions of :24.69, :49.19, and 1:12.94 through six furlongs. Other speedy types—last-out Native Diver Stakes (G3) winner Prime Attraction and San Diego victor Accelerate—also raced off the early pacesetter, and the New York-bred son of Frost Giant took full advantage under jockey Gary Stevens.
“It looked like we were going to see a sub-:23 first quarter, and we covered the first quarter in :24 and change and the half at almost :50, and the race was pretty much over,” Stevens said. “He’s got a great turn of foot the last quarter mile, and it was a lot of fun.”
Collected made a wide move turning for home under first-time jockey Mike Smith, but never made up significant ground on Giant Expectations and finished a neck behind Accelerate for second.
“It was a bad ride. It was my fault,” said Smith, who took over riding Collected for Martin Garcia, who relocated to New York. “I slipped leaving the gate. We should have been on the lead. Then they were going too slow and we couldn’t get there in the end.”
Giant Expectations came into the San Antonio winless in five starts around two turns, but earned his first graded win Aug. 26 in the seven-furlong Pat O’Brien Stakes (G2) at Del Mar. He then finished fifth in the Santa Anita Sprint Championship Stakes (G1) and sixth in the Las Vegas Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1).
“He needs to get out of the gate, which he did today,” said Peter Eurton, who trains Giant Expectations for Exline-Border Racing, Gatto Racing, and Garrett Zubok. “He was a little tight, but (Stevens) kind of sent him away from there and the next (thing) you (saw) was :24 and :49, and it was game over. He’s just an amazing horse who needs his kind of race.”
Baffert said after the race the trips for both of his San Antonio entrants were less than ideal. Hoppertunity finished a half-length behind Collected after he made an inside move and flattened in the stretch.
“(Collected) should have been on the lead and (Hoppertunity) was too close,” Baffert said.
Bred by Sunrise Stables, out of the Is It True mare Sarahisittrue, Giant Expectations has a 4-3-1 record from 13 starts and $449,200 in earnings. He was a $135,000 purchase by Ryan Exline out of the 2015 Ocala Breeders’ Sales March sale of 2-year-olds in training.