Irap (Tiznow) wins the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on 4.8.2017. Julien Leparoux up, Doug O’Neill trainer, Paul Reddam owner.
The $ 500,000 Ohio Derby (G3) at JACK Thistledown Racino this Saturday is setting up to be a jockey’s race, with most on the current list of probables unaccustomed to leading the way and a couple who can if called on.
One who typically runs close to the pace and could make the lead is Kentucky Derby contender Irap. The Doug O’Neill trainee will make his first start Saturday after getting caught in traffic and finishing well off the board in the Kentucky Derby.
“If the race comes up short on speed, that’s to our benefit,” O’Neill said. “He can be forwardly placed without having to go at breakneck speed.”
O’Neill has laid out an ambitious campaign for Irap beginning with his debut in October. In nine career starts, the colt has gone a mile or longer in eight of his races and faced stakes competition in six, including five graded contests. He tried Grade 1 company in just his third start, the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, where he finished second to the highly regarded, undefeated Mastery. After placing in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) and the Mine That Bird Derby, Irap earned his way to the Kentucky Derby with a win in the Blue Grass Stakes (G2) at Keeneland, defeating such standouts as McCraken, J Boys Echo and eventual Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit.
“He’s knocked heads with some good horses, for sure,” said O’Neill. “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.”
Irap has a history of long works and regularly breezes six furlongs, including his last work in 1:13.80 June 17. “I put a lot of miles in him,” said O’Neill. “It keeps him happy, and he gallops strong. He has a high cruising speed.”
Julien Leparoux had the winning mount in the Blue Grass and returns for the Ohio Derby.
Irap arrived at Thistledown Tuesday in the care of assistant trainer Sabas Rivera and exercise rider Jonny Garcia.
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