Reddam Racing’s Irap continues to progress well at his Del Mar summer base as he bids for his third straight graded stakes win in the Grade 1 Travers, trainer Doug O’Neill said by phone Thursday morning.
A multiple stakes-placed maiden when he sprung a major upset in the Grade 2 Blue Grass in April, the bay colt by Tiznow has grown into a different horse ahead of the “Mid-Summer Derby,” said O’Neill, putting together back-to-back Grade 3 victories since finishing a troubled 18th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 6.
“He’s always been a really physically mature horse, even at a young age, but the last three months or so, he’s just really matured a ton mentally,” said O’Neill. “And he had some foot bruises here and there and that’s really turned around too. Knock on wood, his feet are really good right now and he’s coming around at the right time.”
Irap put himself on the 3-year-old division radar with his three-quarter-length victory in the Blue Grass at odds of 31-1, his eighth lifetime start, where he beat fellow Travers contenders McCraken, second last time out in the Haskell, and Tapwrit, winner of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes in June.
Following his ill-fated trip in the Derby, the $ 300,000 2-year-old in training purchase posted a nose victory in the June 24 Ohio Derby over eventual Grade 1 Haskell winner Girvin and came back in the Indiana Derby on July 15 with a five-length win over next-out West Virginia Derby winner Colonelsdarktemper.
“He’s been knocking heads with some good ones and if you can put your thumb over the [Kentucky] Derby, his form has been pretty consistent his whole career,” said O’Neill. “There’s tons of upside with a horse like him.”
Irap, who worked six furlongs in 1:13.40 on August 11 at Del Mar, is slated to put in his final breeze for the Travers on Saturday, O’Neill said, and is scheduled to ship to Saratoga on Tuesday.
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