04/02/2017 12:04PM

Girvin, with Louisiana Derby won, now focuses on Kentucky

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Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.
Brian Hernandez Jr. rides Girvin to victory in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday.

NEW ORLEANS – All winter, the focus for trainer Joe Sharp and his wife, Rosie Napravnik, had been on winning the Louisiana Derby with Girvin. With that accomplished on Saturday, on Sunday morning they were beginning to look forward to the May 6 Kentucky Derby, in which Girvin will become Sharp’s first Derby starter since he went out on his own in 2014.

“The Louisiana Derby was what we really wanted to win – for now,” Sharp said. “Now it’s Kentucky. But I’m really happy we won the Louisiana Derby.”

“I don’t know that it’s sunk in yet,” said Napravnik, the former jockey who is Girvin’s regular morning rider. “I told Joe last night, ‘I’m so happy for you.’ He said, ‘it’s us.’ But this is the first time that it’s his horse.

“He’s been through this when he was an assistant to Mike Maker. We won the Louisiana Derby together with Vicar’s in Trouble” - a horse Napravnik rode as a jockey, when Sharp was assisting Maker - “but this is different. It’s fun to do it together.”

Girvin is scheduled to head to Louisville early this week. Sharp is based at the Trackside at Churchill Downs training facility, just a few miles east of Churchill Downs. Sharp said Girvin likely would have all his workouts there, but said if he felt it would be prudent to go to Churchill Downs for a workout, he’d do it.

“I’ll play it by ear,” he said.

He also may need a jockey. Brian Hernandez Jr., who has been riding Girvin, also is the regular rider for McCraken, the current Derby favorite, who is set to run Saturday in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. If McCraken moves on to the Derby, Hernandez will have to pick. If he picks McCraken, Girvin will need a replacement. One person it won’t be is Napravnik, who retired 2 1/2 years ago.

“I thought about putting out something on Twitter on Saturday saying I was going to ride Girvin, as an April Fool’s joke, but I was worried people might take it seriously,” she said. “I’m not riding.”

Napravnik and Sharp are the parents of two young sons: Carson, 22 months, and Tucker, 7 1/2 months.

“I got pregnant, won the Breeders’ Cup, announced my retirement, had two sons, now the Louisiana Derby. We count our blessings,” Napravnik said. “It’s been 2 1/2 years, and it feels like 2 1/2 seconds.”

Girvin got a Beyer Speed Figure of 91 for his victory. He has now won three times in four starts.

Girvin is owned by Brad Grady, who was instrumental in helping Sharp go out on his own.

“It’s fun that this has all happened with Brad, where everything has fallen into place,” Napravnik said. “Joe and I consider ourselves the luckiest people, ever.”

Patch, who finished second in only his third lifetime start, was scheduled to fly back to Florida on Sunday to trainer Todd Pletcher’s winter quarters at the Palm Beach Downs training center.

Asked about the Derby, for which Patch picked up 40 points on Saturday, Pletcher said, “See how he ships in and all that stuff. We shall see.”

Patch is by Union Rags, a Belmont winner, and is out of a mare by A.P. Indy, also a Belmont winner.

“You’d think the farther he goes the better he’s going to get,” said Pletcher, who said he thought the Louisiana Derby was “another move forward for him.”

Patch lost an eye prior to his racing career, but it has hardly slowed him down.

“He's amazed me how well he’s handled losing an eye,” Pletcher said. “He’s got such a cool personality, professional, you literally would never know it. I’ve never seen him do anything that would make you think he’s impaired. He’s still taken in some dirt and things like that that a lot of young horses with two eyes would have trouble with. He’s adjusting to that pretty well.

“He seems to handle being inside, outside and in between. It looked like he still finished with his legs underneath him and galloped out strongly around the turn.”

Local Hero, who finished third, came out of the race well and will go to Churchill Downs on Monday, according to trainer Steve Asmussen. Local Hero picked up 20 points in the Louisiana Derby and now has 30 points toward the Derby on the list that determines the 20-horse field.

“He’ll go to Churchill Downs on Monday with the barn and we’ll train him there. Obviously he’s got 30 points and we’ll see what that does for us,” Asmussen said.

In the race, Local Hero, “settled well, and you know, wish he’d got to the wire a little quicker, but he ran well did a lot of things right,” Asmussen said.

--additional reporting by David Grening and Mary Rampellini