06/23/2016 3:24PM

Harzand back on short rest in Irish Derby


Harzand will try to win his second derby of the year Saturday at The Curragh in the Group 1 Irish Derby.

Harzand rallied from midpack June 4 to score a game win in the Epsom Derby, a start he nearly missed after painfully dislodging a shoe while traveling to the race from trainer Dermot Weld’s base in Ireland. Weld said this week that Harzand wasn’t a certain starter Saturday while coming back just two weeks after his win at Epsom, but he was among the nine runners declared Thursday for the race.

U S Army Ranger, who finished second to Harzand at Epsom, had been the antepost Irish Derby favorite before being taken out of the race in midweek after he was found to have an infection in his respiratory system. His trainer, Aidan O’Brien, still has four others to run in the Irish Derby, which he has won 11 times and in eight of the last 10 years.

O’Brien’s runners are Idaho, Port Douglas, Shogun, and Claudio Monteverdi, the first three of whom also raced in the Epsom Derby. Port Douglas and Shogun finished 14th and 15th in the Epsom Derby, but Idaho ran a good race for third there and is the strong second choice behind Harzand for Saturday’s race. Idaho hasn’t won since his debut last October, but the Derby was his best showing yet, and he could be ready to at least duplicate if not improve upon that showing Saturday.

Harzand handled Idaho over heavy ground at Leopardstown in the Ballysax Stakes in April and at base might well be the better colt, but having just run the race of his life two weeks ago under difficult circumstances, he might find it hard to perform at a similar level Saturday.

Red Verdon is not without a chance. Trying group stakes competition for the first time, he was sixth at Epsom with a very troubled trip, and The Curragh, a less complicated course than Epsom, might better suit him.