Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo returns to action Saturday.

Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo returns to action Saturday.

Skip Dickstein

Derby Winner Giacomo Makes Return in Strub

(from Santa Anita notes)
Giacomo, the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner, makes his first start in seven months when he faces a full field in Saturday's $300,000 Strub Stakes (gr. I) for 4-year-olds at Santa Anita Park.

Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss' colt returns to action for the first time since finishing seventh in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in June.

A field of 13 lines up in the 1 1/8-mile test.

"We didn't know exactly when he'd be ready to run," trainer John Shirreffs said. "The Strub is his last chance to run in the 4-year-old series, and we wanted to start sooner. He's a little more aggressive than he was as a 3-year-old and probably gained 150 pounds. I remember him as being kind of thin as a 3-year-old; now he's filled out. He's a bigger, stronger horse."

Giacomo, a son of 1994 Horse of the Year Holy Bull owned and bred by the Mosses, has been working readily for his return. A solid effort in the Strub could move him on course for the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I) March 4, but Shirreffs is a proponent of first things first.

"It's a lot of work that goes into getting a horse ready, and we're really anxious to see Giacomo run again," he said. "I think everybody is. We'll have to wait until the end of the year to see (if he can show that the Derby was not a fluke). I don't put a lot of pressure on a race. It's the big picture that counts. I feel the best is yet to come from this horse."

Wilko, winless in seven starts since capturing the 2004 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and hit with several physical setbacks along the way, will once again attempt to bounce back.

"His last race, I think maybe he came back too soon and gave it the old bounce," said his jockey, Corey Nakatani. Wilko was 11th of 14 in the Malibu Stakes (gr. I) at seven furlongs on Dec. 26 after running third by a head in the restricted Larskpur at Golden Gate Dec. 10.

Wilko has a 3-2-7 record from 18 starts, with earnings of $1,046,574 for owner J. Paul Reddam.

The Bob Baffert-trained Hockey The General, a versatile son of General Meeting, worked six furlongs Sunday at Santa Anita in a bullet 1:11 4/5.

Owned by Baffert's wife, Jill, Hockey The General was beaten a nose by Chinese Dragon in the first division of the Sir Beaufort Stakes at one mile on turf Dec. 26. He won an allowance race on Hollywood Park's main track prior to that.

$300,000 Strub Stakes (gr. II, Race 7, 3:37 p.m.), 4-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Greeley's Galaxy (KY), 119, Kent Desormeaux
2. Top This and That (CA), 117, Alex Solis
3. Alexandersrun (FL), 117, Jon Court
4. Giacomo (KY), 123, Mike Smith
5. Dixie Meister (TX), 119, David Flores
6. Hockey the General (CA), 117, Victor Espinoza
7. Ulistnintome (KY), 117, Tyler Baze
8. Ice Cole (FL), 117, Javier Santiago
9. Actxecutive (FL), 117, Aaron Gryder
10. Canteen (KY), 117, Garrett Gomez
11. High Limit (KY), 121, Patrick Valenzuela
12. Wilko (KY), 117, Corey Nakatani
13. Distorted (KY), 117, Jose Valdivia, Jr.