Much like five weeks ago in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes, Brad Grady’s Joe Sharp-trained Girvin showed professionalism and immense promise when outclassing eight rivals in the 104th Grade II $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 name-appropriate fractions of 23.46 and 47 flat, the Brian Hernandez, Jr.-piloted son of Tale of Ekati rallied four-wide around the far turn after six furlongs in 1:11.15, collared new leader Local Hero and jockey Florent Geroux in mid-stretch and then sprinted home, out-finishing Calumet Farm’s Todd Pletcher-trained Patch and Tyler Gaffalione by 1¼ lengths.
The final time over the fast main track was 1:49.77, with a final eighth of a mile in 12.97 seconds. Patch finished 1¾ lengths ahead of Local Hero, while longshot Hollywood Handsome finished up well, rallying from last to miss third by a nose under Shaun Bridgmohan.
Sent to post as the 6-5 favorite, Girvin returned $4.60, $3 and $2.40, while Patch returned $5.20 and $3.60 and Local Hero returned $3.40 to show. He 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 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],” Sharp added. “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.”
Gaffalione was very pleased with his mount’s effort, which was only his third start, first around two turns and first since breaking his maiden six weeks ago at Gulfstream Park. “We had a great trip. 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,” Geroux said of 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 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 Dallas Stewart-trained Hollywood Handsome. “He really made a nice sustained run at the end and is improving.”
Sorry Erik (Kent Desormeaux, jockey), Senior Investment (Channing Hill), Guest Suite (Robby Albarado), Hotfoot (James Graham) and Monaco (Rajiv Maragh) completed the order of finish.
“Hopefully they don’t give up on this horse because I really think he has a good future,” Hill said. “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.”
“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,” Albarado said. “That’s a nice horse that won the race but it just wasn’t our day today with Guest Suite.”
“I did what I was told to do,” Graham said. “He’s a cool little horse and he wants to do right.”
“Everything was going good and the horse broke really sharp,” Maragh said. “When they started picking it up, he really couldn’t keep up.”