Trainer John Shirreffs said Giacomo will be ready when the gates spring open Saturday for the $1-million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I). The Big 'Cap will be the second start of the year for the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner who began his 4-year-old season with a third-place effort in the Feb. 4 Strub Stakes (gr. II).
The Strub marked Giacomo's first start since a seventh-placed finish in the 2005 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) after which he underwent ankle surgery and a knee clean-up that kept him out of action during the summer and fall of 2005.
Shirreffs said he was happy with Giacomo's return effort in the Strub, where he was impeded a bit by mid-stretch traffic just missing second by a half-length to Top This and That, whom he will meet again in the 10-furlong Big' Cap.
"Going 1 1/8 miles the first time out was a little rough, but this time he should be ready," the trainer said during Tuesday's National Thoroughbred Racing Association teleconference. "I was happy with the way he ran. In the beginning (jockey) Mike (Smith) said he was a little rank, but he got him to relax and he came running at the end."
Following his surgery and recovery, Shirreffs said Giacomo has grown and matured. "He's really blossomed and matured between three and four," Shirreffs said. "He's gotten a lot bigger and stronger and just filled out more."
A win in the Big 'Cap would make Giacomo the second Kentucky Derby winner since Real Quiet to win a grade I race as a 4-year-old. Funny Cide, 2003 Kentucky Derby winner, won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) in 2004.
Shirreffs said the strapping son of Holy Bull
would make five starts on the year with the ultimate goal the Breeders Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Churchill Downs Nov. 4.