Brad Grady's Girvin (Tale of Ekati) took his dirt record to two-for-two and earned 50 points towards a spot in the GI Kentucky Derby starting gate with an 8-1 upset of Saturday's GII Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds. Away alertly from the one-hole, the dark bay saved ground in fifth as an eager Local Hero (Hard Spun) ticked off opening splits of :23.70 and :47.02 while well clear of 3-2 favorite Mo Town (Uncle Mo), who led the rest of the pack in second. Advancing on the far turn to be second, Girvin was tipped out to the three-path to take on the pacesetter in the lane, collared that rival in mid-stretch and continued clear to score his first black-type success. “TDN Rising Star” Untrapped (Trappe Shot), who was also sent off at 8-1, got up for second and Local Hero held third. Favored GII Remsen S. winner Mo Town, who ran off with jockey John Velazquez in the post parade, faded to finish fifth, just a nose ahead of sixth-place finisher Shareholder Value (Uncle Mo).
“We believed in the horse all along,” winning trainer Joe Sharp said. “I lost my voice [from cheering] and we're in shock and very excited. He will stay here and probably run in the [GII] Louisiana Derby [Apr. 1]. We'll let him tell us, but that's my inclination.”
“The horse did the job for us,” jockey Brian Hernandez said. “You have to give him the credit. He put us in a good spot the whole way and traveled like a true professional. For a horse to come out and do what he did today in just his third start, that shows what kind of special animal he truly is.”
As for the beaten favorite, trainer Tony Dutrow said, “I thought broke well and got himself into position and just wasn't able to maintain it. Johnny's comments were that the horse was struggling over the surface and never got ahold of it. He felt strongly that it was a surface Mo Town didn't care for. So, we will see if he was right or not. No disrespect to Fair Grounds' surface–it's one of the reasons we came–it just didn't work out for him today.”
Girvin bested Excitations (Into Mischief), who returned to graduate in Nola next out Feb. 2, by a head in his career bow going six furlongs at Fair Grounds Dec. 16. The $130,000 FTKOCT grad came up just 3/4 of a length short next out when switched to the turf and extended to a mile for that venue's Keith Gee Memorial S. Feb. 4.
Girvin becomes the second stakes winner for his unraced dam Catch the Moon off the heels of 2015 GIII Iroquois S. winner Cocked and Loaded (Colonel John). Catch the Moon, purchased by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings for $240,000 while in foal to Shanghai Bobby at the 2015 KEENOV sale, produced a colt by the 2012 champion 2-year-old colt last year and was bred back to Curlin. Girvin's second dam opened her career with a pair of runaway tallies, including the 2005 Barretts Debutante S.
Saturday, Fair Grounds
RISEN STAR S.-GII, $400,000, FG, 2-25, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:43.08, ft.
1–#@GIRVIN, 116, c, 3, by Tale of Ekati
1st Dam: Catch the Moon, by Malibu Moon
2nd Dam: Catch My Fancy, by Yes It's True
3rd Dam: Walk Away Rene, by Gold Alert
($140,000 RNA Ylg '15 KEESEP; $130,000 Ylg '15 FTKOCT).
O-Brad Grady; B-Bob Austin & John Witte (KY); T-Joe Sharp;
J-Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.. $240,000. Lifetime Record:
3-2-1-0, $274,400. *1/2 to Cocked and Loaded (Colonel John),
GSW, $491,660. Werk Nick Rating: B.
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.2–Untrapped, 116, c, 3, Trappe Shot–Exit Three, by Giant's
Causeway. 'TDN Rising Star' ($97,000 Ylg '15 KEEJAN;
$150,000 Ylg '15 KEESEP; $125,000 2yo '16 OBSAPR).
O-Michael Langford; B-Indian Creek & Jonathan Sheppard (KY);
T-Steven M. Asmussen. $80,000.3–Local Hero, 116, c, 3, Hard Spun–Liam's Dream, by Saint
Liam. ($180,000 Ylg '15 KEESEP; $500,000 2yo '16 FTFMAR).
O-e Five Racing Thoroughbreds; B-Three Chimneys Farm LLC
(KY); T-Steven M. Asmussen. $40,000.Margins: 2, 2 1/4, NK. Odds: 8.10, 8.00, 3.10.
Also Ran: Guest Suite, Mo Town, Shareholder Value, Sorry Erik, Arklow, U S Officer, Cool Arrow, Horse Fly. Scratched: Takeoff, It's Your Nickel, So Conflated. Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.