LEXINGTON, KY – Reddam Racing’s Irap, upset winner of the Grade 2 Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 8, put in the first of two scheduled works for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 6 by covering a mile in 1:44 Friday morning.
With Julien Leparoux aboard, Irap worked over a fast track after the morning track renovation break.
Timed from the 7/8 pole, Irap started off at a two-minute lick with fractions of :15 and :29, then produced splits of :41.20, :53, 1:06, 1:30, and the mile in 1:44.
“I thought he went great,” trainer Doug O’Neill said. “Julien was happy with it and Irap switched leads right on cue and finished well. I do that a lot with my two-turn horses. It was a good piece of work.”
Friday marked the first time that O’Neill had seen Irap since the Tiznow colt finished fourth in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park on March 26.
“He looks phenomenal,” said O’Neill, who used Keeneland as his prime training base last spring with champion and eventual Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. “We love it here at Keeneland. This brings back a lot of good memories. It made a lot of sense to stay here because there are a lot of options with the (all-weather) training track. It worked last year and it was a no-brainer to stay here.”
O’Neill was scheduled to return to California on Friday. He will be back at Keeneland next Friday when Irap puts in his next work.
“(Jockey) Mario (Gutierrez) will work him next week,” O’Neill said. “It will be pretty much as the same as today with the two-minute lick and then 3/4.”
For Nyquist’s final pre-Derby work last year, O’Neill had the colt work before the first race of that afternoon’s program.
“I’d love to do the same thing this year, but we had a little more clout last year,” O’Neill said of the Eclipse Award-winning and multiple Grade 1 winner Nyquist. “That is when the track is at its best.”
O’Neill said Irap would ship to Churchill Downs on April 29 or 30.
Also after the renovation break, Toyota Blue Grass runner-up Practical Joke, with Fernando Rivera aboard, worked a 1/2-mile in :49.80 in company with Grade 3 winner Ticonderoga for trainer Chad Brown.
Keeneland clockers caught the Into Mischief colt in fractions of :12.60, :24.80, :37.40, :49.80, and out in 1:01.60.
“He worked fine,” Brown said. “He worked an easy half and I was happy with what I saw. He’s moving sound and happy. He’ll have a serious work next Friday at Churchill, weather permitting.”
Brown said Practical Joke, owned by Klaravich Stable and William H. Lawrence, would ship to Churchill on Monday. He is pleased with how Practical Joke has fared this month at Keeneland, saying, “The horse is full of himself. His energy level is great.
“Since he arrived at Keeneland, he’s loved it here,” Brown said. “That’s why we kept him here a little longer after the race.”
Brown said Ticonderoga, fourth in the Grade 3 Transylvania Presented by Keeneland Select on April 7, would return to New York and possibly be pointed to a race in late May.
Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Robert V. LaPenta’s Tapwrit and workmate Wissam were the first horses on the track following the renovation break. They jogged the short distance to the finish line before turning around and starting to gallop.
With Jose Ortiz aboard Tapwrit and Romain Techer on the maiden Wissam, the pair eased into the move with an opening 1/4-mile of :25 and cruised in tandem through the stretch. With Ortiz giving Tapwrit mild encouragement in the closing strides, they finished the five furlongs in 1:01.40. Tapwrit left his workmate behind in a strong gallop out of 1:14.80.
“We were looking for a good maintenance drill,” said Ginny DePasquale, Todd Pletcher’s assistant who is handling his Keeneland string. “He galloped out very well and Jose was very pleased. He had to keep him focused a little bit, but that is just him. That is why he was tapping him at the end. He has come a long way, but you have to tell him, ‘This is what we are doing today.’ You have to keep him focused.”
KENTUCKY DERBY CANDIDATE GIRVIN COMES TO KEENELAND
Brad Grady’s Girvin, winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star and Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, will be spending the next few days at Keeneland to continue training for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 6.
“We are going to utilize the (all-weather) training track the next couple of days,” said trainer Joe Sharp, who brought Girvin to Keeneland from the Trackside Training Center in Louisville.
Girvin, who worked a 1/2-mile in :47.80 at Trackside last Saturday and was scheduled to work again tomorrow at Trackside or Churchill Downs, headed 75 miles east in anticipation of heavy storms that are forecast for Louisville the next few days.
“We could push his work back to Monday,” Sharp said. “We are going to watch the weather.”