Let it be known, both far and wide, that Doug O’Neill knows how to win big races.
On Saturday, O’Neill was on hand when his 3-year-old colt, Irap, who became the first horse in the history of the legendary and historic Blue Grass Stakes to win that Kentucky Derby prep as a maiden earlier this spring, proved he could do it again.
This time, Irap — a bay colt by Tiznow and out of the Storm Cat mare Silken Cat — over came several busy intersections, traffic issues, a fender bender or two, and, even, perhaps, some serious case of road rage to capture the Grade 3 Ohio Derby at Thistledown Racetrack near Cleveland.
O’Neill — who has already won two Kentucky Derbies with I’ll Have Another and Nyquist, and a Preakness Stakes with Nyqvist — added another trophy to the crowded case.
Iran captured the Ohio Derby by a whisker and a nose over Louisiana Derby and Risen Star Stakes champion Girvin, who tried everything he could muster to hold on to the victory. Back another 41/4 lengths, in third, was Untrapped.
All three of the win, place and show finishers ran in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
“Amazing,” was about all rider Julien Leparoux could muster afterwards.
Truly amazing. The race chart basically said it all.
“Irap steadied behind rivals entering the clubhouse turn, remained in tight while between foes entering the backstretch, was patiently handled into the second turn, rallied steadily three wide, dug in determinedly despite being bumped by Girvin in deep stretch and got up in the final stride.”