Sits Behind Stable Mate's Pace En Route to Victory
By Dick Downey
If it's true that you have to like it when a plan comes together, then connections of Girvin are certainly loving what happened in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday.
Trainer Joe Sharp said earlier this week that Girvin's owner, Brad Grady, wanted to ensure an honest pace for Girvin, and to that end Sharp had entered stablemate Hotfoot last Saturday.
As soon as the gate opened, Hotfoot shot to the lead and set fractions of 23.46 of 47.00 as Monaco, Local Hero, Girvin and Patch pursued him around the first turn and up the backstretch.
As the far turn approached, Local Hero, who is prone to run on the lead, couldn't wait any longer and made a move rounding the bend. Meanwhile, Girvin and Brian Hernandez, Jr. were still biding their time in fourth, five lengths off the pace. Six furlongs were run in 1:11.15.
Hernandez pulled the trigger for real going around the far turn, and Girvin, who was three and four wide, began a steady advance. Hotfoot was done, and Local Hero grabbed a short-lived lead. Girvin was on top by a head with a furlong remaining in the race and won by 1 1/4 length, timed in 1:49.44 after switching back to his left lead late.
Patch made a nice stretch run up the rail to get second, and Local Hero hung for third, another 1 3/4 length back, and just a nose ahead of the fourth finisher, longshot Hollywood Handsome.
At post-time odds of 6-5, Girvin was favored by the betting public, and he returned backers $4.60, $3.00 and $2.40 on $2 tickets. More importantly to the Girvin camp, the plan had unfolded exactly as hoped by Grady, Sharp and Hernandez.
Guest Suite, the 3-1 second choice, did not fire at all and was never better than seventh. Sorry Erik finished fifth, followed by Senior Investment, Guest Suite, Hotfoot and Monaco.
Girvin's win gave him 100 Kentucky Derby points to push his total to 150. Patch, who got 40 points in his stakes debut, represents yet another Todd Pletcher trainee that's qualified for the Kentucky Derby. The trainer also has Florida Derby winnner Always Dreaming, Tapwrit, Malagacy and Master Plan in the current top 20 with four major prep races remaining.
Brad Kelley's Calumet Farm owns Patch, making him the third horse for the farm with top-20 Derby points and the fourth among the top 23, excluding the Japan Road to the Derby, which appears to be without a traveler at this point. Calumet also owns Sunland Derby winner Hence (50 points); and Sonneteer (20 points) and Wild Shot (17 points), each of whom have another Derby prep start planned.
Local Hero, with 20 fresh points, now has 30. Hollywood Handsome, a late Triple Crown nominee, was awarded his first 10 points.
A son of Tale of Ekati, Girvin was bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte. The colt is out of Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon. He was bought by Grady at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October 2015 sale for $130,000. The winner's share of the $1 million Louisiana Derby was 600,000, pushing Girvin's career earnings to $874,400.
Girvin engaged in only his fourth career start today, getting his third win. He was also victorious in the Risen Star Stakes, worth 50 Derby points, after breaking his maiden in his debut and finishing second in the Keith Gee Memorial Stakes on turf. All four of his career races have come at Fair Grounds.
Joe Sharp, winning trainer: “It doesn’t feel bad. He’s a talented horse. We’re enjoying the ride. It’s great connections and a great owner, and it has been a real team effort.”
Brian Hernandez, Jr., winning jockey: “He’s such a talented horse. He puts a lot of confidence in you. Today my biggest thing was when I saw Local Hero settle as well as he did, I wanted to stay behind and give myself a target. Every time I needed him, he was there for me. Turning for home, he got to switching leads back and forth, but he was kind of just messing around.”
Tyler Gaffalione, on board Patch: “We had a great trip. He’s still young and learning, but today he really ran a big race. There was a lot of traffic out there. Once we dove inside and found a path, he really accelerated and finished up really good. He’s pretty handy, and you can do whatever you want with him. He listens very well.”
Florent Geroux, on board Local Hero: “I had a great trip and we had a good pace in front. He was nice and relaxed and Steve and his team did a great job getting him ready for today. He was a different horse today than last time he ran. I was in position to win the race and they just outran me at the end.”
Shaun Bridgmohan, on board Hollywood Handsome: “I had a nice trip and there was enough pace for us. He really made a nice sustained run at the end and is improving.”
Channing Hill, on board Senior Investment: “Hopefully they don’t give up on this horse because I really think he has a good future. He really doesn’t get what he’s 100 percent doing yet. He was never super-clear, but he fought all the way to the wire. I had to step on the brakes on the turn a bit, but honestly I thought I had a real shot on the backside when I was behind the winner. He’s a Belmont kind of horse.”
Robby Albarado, Guest Suite: “I had Girvin in my sights, so he was my target to follow around there, but he gradually just got away from me as we went along. That’s a nice horse that won the race but it just wasn’t our day today with Guest Suite.”
James Graham, Hotfoot: “I did what I was told to do. He’s a cool little horse and he wants to do right.”
Rajiv Maragh, Monaco: “Everything was going good and the horse broke really sharp. When they started picking it up, he really couldn’t keep up.”