The beauty of an executed  Game plan can be Giant. The Cornhusker Handicap on July 8 was that and then some.

This grade 3 run for three-year-olds and up males is the centerpiece for the Prairie Meadows Race Course in Altoona, Iowa. Inaugurated in 1966, this mile and an eighth drive over the Mid-West dirt attracted ten talented runners to the 2023 edition. With $300,000 in purse money up for grabs, it would take more than an “Aww Shucks” effort to win this running of the Cornhusker.

Dale Romans has long been a Thoroughbred conditioner that understands how to get runners ready for the big day. Having saddled the last horse to beat American Pharoah (2015 Travers Stakes Keen Ice), the upset winner in the 2012 Preakness (Shackleford), and the second-longest shot to win in the Breeders’ Cup Mile history(2011 Court Vision), this Churchill Downs training staple has a great track record. For good measure, this Louisville native also captured the Cornhusker in 2004 with Roses in May.

Bringing Giant Game to post for a run at graded stakes glory, Romans had a plan. Understanding the speed-favoring nature of Prairie Meadows combined with the skills of veteran jockey Martin Garcia, this son of Giant’s Causeway just needed to execute his conditioner’s strategy.

Always a great gate jockey, Garcia encouraged his mount from post one and got him right to the lead. Rolling through solid early fractions (23,17 opening quarter, 47.18 half-mile), this Giant was very Game on the front end. Turning for home with a length and a half lead, Garcia stayed on the gas pedal. Fighting all the way to the finish, Romans’ charge held off a late runs from graded stakes winners Skippylongstocking, Ain’t Life Grand, and Call Me Fast.

The Cornhusker brilliance marked the second consecutive win for Giant Game and the first triumph in graded stakes company. This four-year-old West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables-owned colt has a career record of three wins, two seconds, and two-thirds in ten lifetime starts.