NEW ORLEANS, LA – Much like five weeks ago in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes, Brad Grady’s Joe Sharp-trained Girvin outclassed his rivals in the 104th Grade 2, $1,000,000 Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on Saturday afternoon.
After breaking from post eight and settling in mid-pack as his Grady-owned stablemate Hotfoot carved out fractions of 23.46 and 47.00, the Brian Hernandez, Jr.-piloted son of Tale of Ekati rallied four-wide around the far turn after six furlongs in 1:11.15. He collared the temporary leader, Local Hero, in mid-stretch, and then sprinted home, out-finishing Calumet Farm’s Todd Pletcher-trained Patch and Tyler Gaffalione by 1 1/4 lengths.
The final time over the fast main track was 1:49.77, with a final 1/8 mile in 12.97 seconds. Patch finished 1 3/4 lengths ahead of Local Hero, while longshot Hollywood Handsome finished well, rallying from last to miss third by a nose under Shaun Bridgmohan. Sorry Erik, Senior Investment, Guest Suite, Hotfoot, and Monaco completed the order of finish.
Sent to post as the 6-5 favorite, Girvin earned $600,000 to increase his career bankroll to $874,400 in just his fourth career start. He now owns a record of three wins and a second from said quartet of tries and heads to the Grade I $2,000,000 Kentucky Derby as one of the logical contenders.
“He’s such a talented horse,” Hernandez, Jr., said. “He puts a lot of confidence in you. Today, my biggest thing was when I saw Local Hero settle as well as he did, I wanted to stay behind (him) and give myself a target. Every time I needed him, he was there for me. Turning for home, he got to switching leads back and forth, but he was kind of just messing around.”
“It doesn’t feel bad [to have a Kentucky Derby horse],” said Sharp. “He’s a talented horse. We’re enjoying the ride. It’s great connections and a great owner and it has been a real team effort.”
The race was only Patch’s third career start, including his first around two turns and his first since breaking his maiden six weeks ago at Gulfstream Park.
“We had a great trip,” said Gaffalione. “He’s still young and learning, but today, he really ran a big race. There was a lot of traffic out there. Once we dove inside and found a path, he really accelerated and finished up really good. He’s pretty handy and you can do whatever you want with him. He listens very well.”
“I had a great trip and we had a good pace in front,” jockey Florent Geroux said of the Steve Asmussen-trained Local Hero. “He was nice and relaxed, and Steve and his team did a great job getting him ready for today. He was a different horse today than the last time he ran. I was in position to win the race and they just outran me at the end.”
“I had a nice trip and there was enough pace for us,” Bridgmohan said of the Dallas Stewart-trained Hollywood Handsome. “He really made a nice, sustained run at the end and is improving.”
Girvin returned $4.60, $3, and $2.40. Patch brought back $5.20 and $3.60, while Local Hero paid $3.40 to show.
Jockey Channing Hill, Senior Investment: “Hopefully, they don’t give up on this horse, because I really think he has a good future. He really doesn’t get what he’s 100% doing yet. He was never super-clear, but he fought all the way to the wire. I had to step on the brakes on the turn a bit, but honestly I thought I had a real shot on the backside when I was behind the winner. He’s a Belmont (Stakes) kind of horse.”
Jockey Robby Albarado, Guest Suite: “I had Girvin in my sights, so he was my target to follow around there, but he gradually just got away from me as we went along. That’s a nice horse that won the race, but it just wasn’t our day today.”
Jockey James Graham, Hotfoot: “I did what I was told to do. He’s a cool little horse and he wants to do right.”
Jockey Rajiv Maragh, Monaco: “Everything was going good and the horse broke really sharp. When they started picking it up, he really couldn’t keep up.”
Fair Grounds Race Course