04/26/2017 12:10PM

Girvin wearing Z-bar shoes; final Derby work delayed to Saturday

Keeneland/Coady Photography
Girvin is led by a groom Monday at Keeneland. The Kentucky Derby hopeful has been wearing Z-bar shoes on both front hooves.

So just what is up with Girvin?

For the past week or so, Girvin, the Louisiana Derby winner, has had an unorthodox schedule in preparation for the Kentucky Derby on May 6 at Churchill Downs. Girvin last week was taken from his base at the Churchill Downs Trackside training facility in Louisville to Keeneland in order to train there, the stated reason at the time from trainer Joe Sharp being that the wet weather to hit central Kentucky made training at Keeneland – which also has a synthetic training track – a better option to stay on a regular training schedule.

But along with that change, Girvin had a potential workout from last weekend delayed. First it was to be held over to Monday, and then on Monday Sharp said Girvin would not work again until this Friday.

But video of the horse taken earlier this week at Keeneland and posted on the Instagram site of @takechargelady, the account of Anne Eberhardt Keogh of the Blood-Horse, clearly shows Girvin with Z-bar shoes on both front hooves. Z-bar shoes are used on horses for any number of hoof issues, ranging from a problem with the sole, the frog, to an abscess, to a quarter crack.

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Girvin did not race in Z-bar shoes in the Louisiana Derby. When contacted by Daily Racing Form by telephone Wednesday and asked why Girvin was training in Z-bar shoes when he had not raced in them, Sharp replied, “He’s never raced in Z-bars, so that wouldn’t be accurate anyway,” which was not what the question posited.

While a follow-up question was being asked – “Has he trained in Z-bars before?” – the line went dead.

A subsequent phone call rang but then went to voicemail, which was full, so a message could not be left.

Subsequent texts to Sharp asking for cooperation on the story ended with Sharp texting, “He’s at Keeneland, working Saturday,” which is a day later than when Sharp had said earlier this week the final work would take place.

On a national teleconference Tuesday, Sharp said he wanted to give Girvin “one stiff work seven or eight days out,” which would mean Friday or Saturday. He said the schedule was because he “wanted a somewhat fresh horse,” and said Girvin was “plenty fit.”

“That’s what he needs at this point,” Sharp said.

Girvin has raced four times and has won three, his lone loss his only start on turf. Since the Louisiana Derby on April 1, he has had one workout, on April 15, a half-mile in 47.80 seconds at the Churchill Downs training facility. The work was the fastest of 30 at the distance that morning.

Girvin’s status is vitally important to the makeup of the Derby field, and for riding assignments. Girvin’s victories in the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star Stakes have left him atop the points list, with 150, so he is among the 20 horses currently set to run in the Derby, for which entries will be taken next Wednesday.

In addition, Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has taken the call on Girvin, but there are several prominent horses currently without confirmed riders, and if Smith were to come open, he certainly would be in play for them.

Among the horses who, as of Wednesday, did not have confirmed riders were the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Battalion Runner and Patch, and the Steve Asmussen-trained pair of Untrapped and Lookin At Lee.

Lookin At Lee is officially 21st on the points list, but he is expected to get into the Derby. Malagacy, currently ranked 13th, is not expected to run.

“I really don’t anticipate him running unless he wows me” in a workout, trainer Todd Pletcher said.

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Pletcher said he anticipates working all his possible Derby runners – including Always Dreaming and Tapwrit – on Friday at Churchill Downs. All his Derby runners were on the grounds there as of Tuesday.

After Lookin At Lee, next on the points list are Sonneteer, then Royal Mo, both of whom are intended runners for the race if they can get in.

When entries are taken Wednesday, if more than 20 enter, up to four also-eligibles, listed in points order, would be allowed. Those horses could only draw in if there is a scratch, or scratches, from the main body of the race prior to May 5, the morning of the Kentucky Oaks. After that, if any horse is withdrawn from the Derby, an also-eligible cannot get in.

Another horse currently in the top 20 is Thunder Snow, the United Arab Emirates Derby winner. Although owner Godolphin Racing has not officially stated Thunder Snow is running, Churchill Downs officials have been operating under the belief he is coming, with an arrival of Sunday.

Under that schedule, Thunder Snow would get out of his U.S. Department of Agriculture-mandated, 42-hour quarantine in time to train Tuesday morning. That timetable is consistent with horses who travel from Europe for other major events in the United States, such as the Breeders’ Cup.

– additional reporting by Nicole Russo