LOUISVILLE, KY (June 22, 2017) – If you think Waldo is hard to find, just try keeping up with the talented, 3-year-old colt Girvin. His trials and tribulations leading up to this year’s 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby only pale in comparison to his many travels.
Some of which have been documented. Some of which have been mysterious in nature. All of which seemed direct out of a new Jason Bourne movie, and all of which had to take some toll.
But this Saturday, Girvin’s connections – led by owner Brad are hoping it will be a whole lot easier to spot Girvin – a talented son of Tale of Ekati and grandson of Malibu Moon. They hope he will be standing in the winner’s circle at Thistledown Race Course, near Cleveland, after winning the Grade 3 Ohio Derby.
Standing right there for all the racing world to see. And, congratulate once again.
“He’s coming into (Saturday’s) race fantastic,” said trainer Joe Sharp, who was quoted by Alicia Wincze Hughes in her article for The Blood-Horse on-line edition June 21, 2017. “He had a tough trip in the (Kentucky) Derby, but with 20 horses you know going in that you can get into trouble.”
Actually, most of Girvin’s and Sharp’s troubles began long before Derby Day. Actually, going into this year’s Kentucky Derby, a studious and curious handicapper and racing fan couldn’t find Louisiana Derby winner Girvin with a search warrant. Literally.
After capturing the G1 Louisiana Derby in impressive fashion and shipping up from New Orleans, the talented colt and his trainer Joe Sharp first turned up at Churchill Down’s training center over off Popular Level Drive in Louisville. Girvin even had a work over the training track on April 15, and everything appeared to be normal.
But, mysteriously, before a second scheduled work that was supposed to be held at either Churchill Downs’ main track or the training track in or around the date of April 22, the duo went on a disappearing act that rivals that of the “Clyde-like” Eric Conn – the East Kentucky, Social Security lawyer who ditched his ankle bracelet and then local, state and federal lawmakers, and, reportedly, is still on the run.
First, Girvin was supposed to be at Keeneland to work over the all-purpose, synthetic Polytrack because of the unpredictable rainy weather in Louisville. Or, so it was reported.
Then, Girvin was spotted at the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, where he was reportedly being treated by noted horse doctor Dr. Raul Bras for a quarter crack in his right front hoof. Which was more truth than fiction.
Finally, Girvin was seen in a swimming pool and a state of the art hyperbaric chamber at the Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center. Which was seriously accurate.
It was not surprising then when Girvin – who has had issues with quarter cracks before – could not be found with a search warrant after the Kentucky Derby, either. Figuratively.
On the first Saturday in May, Girvin – who had been equipped with an innovative-looking bar shoe on his right front hoof — nearly finished on the first Sunday in May. He ran 13th in the field of 20, but he was beaten over 20 lengths on a muddy track by Derby winner Always Dreaming.
Raindrops were definitely falling on several heads and dreams, that day.
“He felt OK but he was struggling with the racetrack early on,” said Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, who got the call on Girvin Derby Day. “He was getting knocked around so many times and the poor guy just never had a shot inside. I felt like I was in the one hole. I finally get him running at the three-eighths pole and someone wiped out four of us again. The shot was over then.”
Sharp had similar words after the Derby. “Mike (Smith) came back and said he belongs with this bunch. He hated the track, but still tried to make a run and then we got wiped out on the turn. Mike said I should run him back in the Preakness or the Belmont.”
It was the first disappointing race for Girvin, who had won three of his first four career starts – including two stakes races. His only defeat before the Derby was in the Keith Gee Memorial Stakes, going 1 mile on the turf. Girvin was beaten only 3/4ths of a length by the very talented grass expert Cowboy Culture.
And, prior to the hoof issues, Girvin stamped himself as a legit contender in this year’s 3-year-old crop with a solid victory in the Louisiana Derby at The Fairgrounds in New Orleans. He beat Patch – the third place finisher in the recent Belmont Stakes – by a convincing 11/4 lengths that day.
Yet, Sharp didn’t heed Smith’s advice to run right back in either the Preakness or the Belmont. Instead, he waited for Girvin to get bigger, stronger, and, perhaps better. At least, his feet should be all those things.
Going into Saturday’s 11/8-mile, $500,000 Ohio Derby, Girvin – installed as the 2-1 Morning Line Favorite — has to be considered the horse to beat in a field that also features Derby also-rans Untrapped (12th), Fast and Accurate (17th) and Bluegrass Stakes winner Irap (18th).
Irap, who became the first horse in the long and storied history of the Blue Grass Stakes to win the race as a maiden, looks to be one of the lone speed horses in the Ohio Derby.
Trained by Doug O’Neill, who has won the Kentucky Derby twice with Nyquist and I’ll Have Another, probably will instruct Leparoux to take wind, again.
Girvin, on the other hand, likes to stalk his prey, from just off the pace. He figures to be expertly handled again by Smith.
“He’s (Irap) knocked heads with some good horses, for sure,” said O’Neill, who was quoted in The Blood-Horse. “But he’s by Tiznow, so he’s got the pedigree. He’s got a lot of stamina on the bottom. The Blue Grass brought that all home for us. He needs things to go his way, but he’s maturing as a 3-year-old, and I think he will get better and better with age.”
Joe Sharp is hoping the same thing for his horse, too. Now, that he has found him to be just right again.
From the rail out, here is the prospective field:
- Irap (Julien Leparoux)
- Untrapped (Ricardo Santana, Jr)
- Talk Less (Luis Colon)
- Vibe (Ricardo Feliciano)
- Sorry Erik (Kent Desormeaux)
- Girvin (Mike Smith)
- Fast and Accurate (T.D. Houghton)
- Hinton (John McKee)
- Game Over (Jacob Radosevich)