06/22/2017 2:00PM

Girvin, Irap begin second half of season in Ohio Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Girvin's training was interrupted ahead of the Kentucky Derby, but all systems are go for the Ohio Derby.

With the Triple Crown in the rearview mirror, the “second season” for the 3-year-old division is well under way. Saturday’s Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby has drawn four colts, three of them graded-stakes winners, looking to rebound from poor finishes in the Kentucky Derby: Untrapped (12th), Girvin (13th), Fast and Accurate (17th), and Irap (18th).

The Ohio Derby shapes up as a riders’ race, with little committed speed in the field of nine, which includes a three-pronged entry. Fast and Accurate, whose three career wins all have come on the lead, is likely to inherit the role of pacesetter under T.D. Houghton. But both Girvin, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, and Irap, installed at 3-1, have shown the ability to be forwardly placed.

Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith has the return call on Girvin after riding him for the first time in the Kentucky Derby. Julien Leparoux regains the mount on Irap after giving him a cagey ride near and on the front end to win the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes two back.

“He can be forwardly placed without having to go at breakneck speed,” trainer Doug O’Neill said of Irap.

Girvin was among the most consistent 3-year-olds of the Triple Crown prep season, with three wins from his first four starts, including the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, both Grade 2 events. His only loss in that span came when beaten less than a length while trying turf.

However, he endured a troubled run-up to the Kentucky Derby due to a quarter crack that required specialty shoes and limited his training for several days to swimming. He raced evenly to finish 13th on the wet track.

Girvin has been working steadily at his Trackside Training Center base in Louisville over the last month, including a bullet five furlongs as his final move.

“He’s right on course,” trainer Joe Sharp said. “We’ve had him on a steady work pattern, and he had a great work Saturday. He’s really, really doing well. We’re really looking forward to the rest of his 3-year-old season.”

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Girvin earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 93 in winning the Risen Star, tied with Irap’s mark in the Blue Grass as the top number in this field. Irap entered the Blue Grass as a maiden but had three prior runner-up efforts in stakes, including a loss to Mastery in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity. He was among those bumped at the start of the Kentucky Derby and raced in traffic throughout, fading to 18th.

Untrapped raced consistently early this year, finishing second in the Grade 3 Lecomte and Risen Star – earning a 91 Beyer in the latter – then third in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes. But he also seeks a rebound after finishing sixth in the Arkansas Derby and then off the board in Kentucky.

Likely pacesetter Fast and Accurate has not won on dirt, with his biggest win coming in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes on Turfway’s Polytrack. In his first start after the Derby, he stumbled at the start of the Grade 3 Arlington Classic, rushed up to lead on the yielding turf, and folded late to finish fourth.

Thistledown’s leading owner, Ron Paolucci, has entered three for the track’s biggest race, including two for Jeff Radosevich, who is tied for the lead in the trainer standings. Game Over is 2 for 2 lifetime, and his 84 Beyer is among the top last-out numbers in the field. However, his wins came in a maiden claimer and a starter allowance, and he has never been beyond seven furlongs. Stablemate Talk Less won a Thistledown allowance last out.

Rounding out the field are the third Paolucci entrant, Vibe, trained by Robert Hess Jr., and Sorry Erik, in from California for Keith Desormeaux, with Hall of Famer Kent Desormeaux in the irons.

The Ohio Derby anchors a nine-race card that also includes the $75,000 J. William Petro Memorial Handicap for Ohio-bred fillies and mares and the $75,000 George Lewis Memorial Stakes for Ohio-accredited horses. First post is 1:40 p.m. Eastern.