Trainer Doug O’Neill’s Irap is back in the winner’s circle after a victory in the 2017 Ohio Derby. The three-year-old colt was last seen finishing a disappointing 18th in the Kentucky Derby but was able to best Girvin down the stretch this past weekend. The winning time was 1:50.48 over 1 1/8th miles.
Girvin was the heavy 4/5 favorite, but I had advised last week that his odds weren’t exactly trustworthy. The oddsmakers and handicappers alike had always overvalued the colt in my eyes. That didn’t stop Girvin from putting on a good show regardless.
Fast and Accurate took the team out as an 18/1 pace setter, but fell off immediately at the top of the stretch with Girvin stalking behind. Hinton and Vibe were a part of the front pack for the early stages but faded off equally as well. Game Over went with Girvin initially, but was left in the dust as the latter tore down the stretch with his trademark kick. He looked like the 2017 Ohio Derby winner up until the last portion of the stretch.
That’s when Irap made his move, bursting on the outside of Game Over and catching up with Girvin to provide an absolutely thrilling finish at the wire. It was completely indistinguishable to the naked eye, but video replay proved that Irap got the edge and won the 2017 Ohio Derby in the process.
Florent Leparoux was aboard Irap, and spoke about edging out the legendary Mike Smith who was riding Girvin. “He broke good and we had good position,” said Leparoux. “I was a little farther back in the first turn but I was right behind Mike Smith, and I knew that was the right horse to follow. He’s the kind of horse you have to ask pretty early, because he has that long, long stride, so I was able to get him going early and got there on time. I didn’t know that I’d won, it was so close.”
It was the rebound performance that O’Neill was looking for out of Irap and other supporters of him at the 2017 Ohio Derby window were fairly rewarded. Irap paid $7.60, $3, and $2.40 across the board