07/12/2017 2:36PM

Irap classes up Indiana Derby

JJ Zamaiko
Ohio Derby winner Irap (left) is the 8-5 favorite on the track's morning line for the Indiana Derby.

A field of 11 was entered Wednesday for Saturday night’s Grade 3, $500,000 Indiana Derby, and while none of the likely participants has won more than twice, what keeps the richest race of the marathon Indiana Grand meeting from being a half-million-dollar second-level allowance is the presence of Irap.

Irap is just a two-time winner, but he also is a millionaire. He won the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes while still a maiden and on June 24 captured the $500,000 Ohio Derby by a nose over Girvin. The turnaround is a fairly short one for Irap, and because of the short break between starts, trainer Doug O’Neill came up with an unorthodox plan to keep Irap as fresh as possible.

Rather than shipping the colt back to his California base following the Ohio Derby, Irap took a much shorter trip to Prairie Meadows outside Des Moines, Iowa. There, he met up with the O’Neill-trained Shane’s Girlfriend, who had come in for the Iowa Oaks, and the filly’s exercise rider was aboard Irap for his only work between the Ohio Derby and Indiana Derby, a sharp five-furlong move last Friday.

Whether the plan comes together will be known shortly after 9:49 p.m. Eastern, the scheduled post time for the Indiana Derby. The race had been a Grade 2 since 2004, but the American Graded Stakes Committee dropped it to a Grade 3 this year.

The Derby is one of six stakes on a 10-race program that starts at 6:05. Co-featured is the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (also dropped from Grade 2 to Grade 3 status), which drew eight entrants and is carded as race 8, immediately before the Derby.

Irap drew post 2, will be ridden by Mario Gutierrez, and was installed as the 8-5 morning-line favorite, though his odds could easily fall below that price by post time. The other entrants, from the rail out with riders and morning-line odds, are Society Beau (James Graham, 15-1), Wild Shot (Corey Lanerie, 8-1), Brockton George (Manuel Cruz, 15-1), Hollywood Handsome (Florent Geroux, 8-1), Han Sense (Joe Bravo, 12-1), Top Credentials (Rodney Prescott, 30-1), Awesome Saturday (Brian Hernandez Jr., 8-1), Untrapped (Ricardo Santana Jr., 6-1), Colonelsdarktemper (Jon Court, 10-1), and Watch Me Whip (Robby Albarado, 10-1), who was supplemented into the race.

The draw did no favors for Untrapped, who was third in the Ohio Derby and figures as one of Irap’s main rivals, or for Colonelsdarktemper, an improving Jinks Fires-trained colt who was second to McCraken in the Matt Winn Stakes on June 17 at Churchill.

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Californians top Oaks

Mopotism, another O’Neill and Gutierrez production, looks the likely favorite for the Indiana Oaks despite drawing the outside post in a field of eight.

Mopotism misfired in the Kentucky Oaks, finishing 10th on a sloppy track, but otherwise has had solid form this year and most recently was second, beaten a head, in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks on June 17 at Santa Anita.

Fourth in the Summertime Oaks, and perhaps just about Mopotism’s equal, was Majestic Quality, a second Southern California shipper who looms large in the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Oaks. The other six in the race, from the inside out, are Overture, Dutch Parrot, I’mluckysgirl, Awestruck, Stonetacular, and Wicked Lick.

The other four stakes on the card, worth $100,000 each, drew fields of at least eight and are solid in terms of quality and bettability.

◗ It rained so much Tuesday that Indiana Grand had to cancel its card, and strong storms were forecast again for Thursday and Thursday night. But conditions for the Indiana Derby card look ideal, with moderate temperatures and clear skies forecast. Depending on rainfall totals Thursday, however, the turf course might still be holding water.