Irap Breaks Maiden in Toyota Blue Grass

10th at KEE, $1mGII Toyota Blue Grass S. (1 1/8m)Winner: Irap, c, 3 by Tiznow

Irap | Coady photography

Not since Strike the Gold now better than a quarter-century ago has a horse paired up victories in the GII Toyota Blue Grass S. with another in the GI Kentucky Derby. Reddam Racing LLC's Irap (Tiznow) will not be fancied to break the streak, but the well-traveled colt earned his ticket to Louisville in Saturday's renewal, outlasting Practical Joke (Into Mischief) to become the first horse in history to break his maiden in the race. 'TDN Rising Star' McCraken (Ghostzapper) was sent off the 8-5 favorite in the Blue Grass to run his winning streak to a perfect five-for-five, but raced keenly behind modest fractions and could not summon the necessary late response in third. McCraken will try to follow in the hoofprints of horses like Thunder Gulch and Street Sense, who faltered to varying degrees at Keeneland before rediscovering their better form beneath the Twin Spires.

Saturday, Keeneland
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS S.-GII, $1,000,000, KEE, 4-8, 3yo, 1 1/8m, 1:50.39, ft.
1–#@IRAP, 123, c, 3, by Tiznow
1st Dam: Silken Cat (Ch. 2yo Filly-Can, SW, $102,120),by Storm Cat
2nd Dam: Silken Doll, by Chieftain
3rd Dam: Insilca, by Buckpasser
($140,000 RNA Ylg '15 KEESEP; $300,000 2yo '16 OBSMAR).
O-Reddam Racing LLC; B-Aaron & Marie Jones (KY); T-Doug F.
O'Neill; J-Julien R. Leparoux. $600,000.Lifetime Record: GISP,
8-1-3-1, $772,600. *1/2 to Speightstown (Gone West), Ch.
Sprinter, GISW, $1,258,256. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the
eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.2–Practical Joke, 123, c, 3, Into Mischief–Halo Humor, by
Distorted Humor. ($135,000 Ylg '15 KEEJAN; $240,000 Ylg '15
KEESEP). O-Klaravich Stables, Inc. & William Lawrence;
B-Whispering Oaks (KY); T-Chad C. Brown. $200,000.3–McCraken, 123, c, 3, Ghostzapper">Ghostzapper–Ivory Empress, by Seeking
the Gold. 'TDN Rising Star' O/B-Whitham Thoroughbreds, LLC
(KY); T-Ian R. Wilkes. $100,000.Margins: 3/4, 3, 2HF. Odds: 31.30, 3.60, 1.60.
Also Ran: J Boys Echo, Tapwrit, It's Your Nickel, Wild Shot.
Click for the chart, the PPs or the free catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.

Though he entered the Blue Grass winless in his seven career starts, Irap had arguably earned the right to run in races like the Blue Grass, with runner-up efforts behind the now-sidelined Mastery (Candy Ride {Arg}) in the GI Los Alamitos Futurity last December and to Royal Mo (Uncle Mo) in the GIII Robert B. Lewis S. Feb. 3. The bay, runner-up to Conquest Mo Money (Uncle Mo) in the Mine That Bird Derby Feb. 26, was exiting a fourth in the GIII Sunland Park Derby Mar. 26.

Wild Shot (Trappe Shot), a latest third to Tapwrit (Tapit) in the GII Tampa Bay Derby Mar. 11, hit the ground running and led them under the line for the first time, with Irap pressing from second and Practical Joke alongside in third. McCraken broke out at the break and was more on the bridle in reasonably close attendance to a moderate pace of :23.79 to the quarter and :48.34 to the half-mile. Wild Shot began to beat a retreat nearing the three-eighths marker and Irap inherited the lead, chased now by Practical Joke and McCraken, who was shuffled back more or less to last entering the turn, but who was soon back in forward gear progressing towards the front. Irap turned for home clearly in front, with Practical Joke trying his best, but despite racing on his incorrect lead, Irap got the job done. McCraken flattened out in the final furlong in his first start since annexing the GIII Sam F. Davis S. in his seasonal return Feb. 11.

“A lot of credit to the Reddams,” Jack Sisterson, assistant to trainer Doug O'Neill commented. “[Irap] went to Sunland Park and didn't run quite as well as we expected. Doug said, 'This horse is better than this, so let's send him to Keeneland.' And sure enough, he showed up on the day. [Jockey] Julien [Leparoux] rode him perfect, and it worked out. You have to toy with this horse. He's such a thinker.”

Pedigree Notes:
Irap is the last produce for the Quebec-bred Silken Cat, Canada's Sovereign Award-winning juvenile filly of 1995, whose first foal, the meticulously managed Speightstown (Gone West), won the Eclipse Award as champion sprinter in 2004 and has since become a sire of considerable import. Silken Cat passed away in March 2016. The winner is bred on a cross over Storm Cat that has been successful over the years and has been responsible for the likes of champion Folklore, Tiz Wonderful and American Lion, et al. Irap was offered by Taylor Made on behalf of Aaron and Marie Jones at the 2015 Keeneland September Sale, but was led out unsold on a bid of $140,000. He was sold post-RNA to Grand Oaks for $100,000, then sold for $300,000 as an OBSMAR juvenile.

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