Irap — who was maligned by many after becoming the first maiden winner in the historic G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland earlier this year before he overcame a rough, bumping finish to capture the Ohio Derby over Louisiana Derby winner Girvin — will try to add to his growing resume this Saturday when he is saddled for the $500,000, Grade 3 Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand Racetrack.
All told, 11 3-year-olds were entered for the 11/16-mile Stakes, which will highlight a card that includes five other stakes races — including the G3 Indiana Oaks.
From the rail out, the field will include:
- Society Beau (James Graham, 15-1)
- Irap (Mario Gutierrez, 8-5)
- 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)
- S-Watch Me Whip (Robby Albarado, 10-1)
But, without question, the headliner of the day will be the Indiana Derby, and the feature act, Irap. The son of Tiznow, owned by Reddam Racing and trained by Doug O’Neil, Irap drew the #2 post position and was immediately installed as the 8-5 Morning Line favorite.
Although no horse in the field has won more than twice in their careers to date, Irap has accomplished his victories in a most unconventional way. He has won two Graded Stakes races for his two wins.”
After the Blue Grass Stakes victory, trainer Doug O’Neil had this to say:
“He’s a son of Tiznow, and he has a ton of ability. The fact he was still a maiden was kind of unfortunate, but he’s always been a talented horse.”
And, ever since his rough, disappointing 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, Irap seems to prove it and validate the confidence of his trainer, who already has two Kentucky Derby wins to his credit, what with I’ll Have Another and Nyquist in 2016.
Truthfully, if you throw out the Kentucky Derby experience, Irap really has never run a bad race in his career. Irap started out his racing career last October when he ran third going 61/2 furlongs on the downhill grass course at Santa Anita. He came back with a second to the talented, yet ill-fated Mastery — who was severely injured in winning the Santa Anita Derby — in the Los Alamitos Futurity last December. After that, he ran fourth in a Maiden Special Weight event at Santa Anita, where the second placed finisher was the talented Honor And Courage. He ran second to Royal Mo in the G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes and second to Conquest Mo Money in the Mine That Bird Derby, before running fourth in the Sunland Derby to eventual Iowa Derby winner Hence. Then came the huge victory in the Blue Grass Stakes, before the Derby.
But Irap came right back to win the Ohio Derby, rallying from off the pace to nip Girvin at the wire — despite the fact that Irap was hammered several times before inching ahead before the wire. Immediately after that victory, O’Neill did not transport Irap — who is out of the Storm Cat mare Silken Cat — back to his home base in California. Instead, he shipped him to Prairie Meadows for a brief respite before he was entered for Saturday’s Indiana Derby.
“Oh, it (the Ohio Derby victory) was huge,” said O’Neill, who was quoted in a story by Alicia Wincze Hughes in today’s online edition of The Blood-Horse (www.bloodhorse.com). “With his pedigree and his physical appearance, he sure looked like the type of horse that ran in the Ohio Derby. But having him win that day definitely validated his performance in the Blue Grass. It felt great and I think it showed the kind of talent this horse has.”
Irap’s top competition in the upcoming Indiana Derby would appear to be Untrapped, trained by Steve Asmussen. He was third in the Ohio Derby, behind Irap and Girvin, and now has lost six in a row since he broke his maiden last November at Churchill Downs. But Untrapped, a son of Trappe Shot, has shown ability, from time to time — like his second place finishes in the G3 LeComte Stakes and the G2 Risen Star at The Fairgrounds.
Wild Shot, who won the Pat Day Mile at Churchill Downs before finishing a disappointing 7th in the G2 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park, is another with a chance. He has the riding services of Churchill Downs’ leading rider Corey Lanerie.
A longshot to watch, though, just may be the Jinks Fires’ trainee — Colonelsdarktemper, who will be ridden by Fires’ son-in-law Jon Court. In his last start, Colonelsdarktemper ran a game second to McCracken in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. A similar effort on Saturday could put him right in the chase, too.