Regular readers of Bourbon and Barns will remember Irap, the ugly duckling yearling we profiled after he won the Bluegrass Stakes in April. You can read that story (told in five parts) at http://bourbonandbarns.com/blog/2017/4/22/wm3j7megbbe3wkx9v40q2fgsp5npxl.
While researching the history of Irap, Bourbon and Barns learned that Irap once lived on a farm in Ocala, FL in the same barn as Girvin who would also become a top three-year-old in 2017. The two colts faced off in the Kentucky Derby (with a pair of disappointing finishes) before providing a thrilling stretch duel in Saturday's Ohio Derby at Thistledown in North Randall, OH.
Former stablemates Irap and Girvin battled to the wire in the Ohio Derby on Saturday in a race so close even the track announcer wasn’t sure who had won. In the end, Irap edged ahead at the line to win his second graded stakes race in his last three starts.
Irap, a son of Tiznow and Silken Cat, ran from off the pace and entered the stretch 1 ½ lengths behind the leaders. In the stretch, jockey Julien Leparoux asked Irap for more and the colt delivered with a burst that sent him nose-to-nose with Girvin who matched Irap stride-for-stride before the close finish.
Irap, who had failed to win in his first seven starts, won the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland at odds of 33-to-1. He raced next in the Kentucky Derby where he finished a disappointing 18th.
While Irap’s career may have gotten off to a slow start, 2017 is proving to be a great year. This year, he has two wins and two second-place finishes in six starts with earnings of $1 million.
Girvin, a son of Tale of Ekati, broke his maiden in December before winning the Grade-2 Risen Star Stakes and the Grade-2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds earlier this year. Girvin finished a disappointing 13th in the Kentucky Derby before returning to the track on Saturday for the Ohio Derby.
Before facing off against each other in their last two races, Irap and Girvin were once stablemates. Brad Grady and Bobby Dodd, pinhookers in Ocala, FL, buy young horses at sales and (hopefully) sell them at a profit before the young horses begin their racing careers. After Irap failed to bring a sufficient price at auction as a yearling, they purchased him privately, got him into shape at the farm in Ocala, then sold him for a profit at a two-year-olds-in-training sale.
Grady and Dodd hoped to do something similar with Girvin. Grady and Dodd first saw Girvin at a sale at Keeneland in 2015, but his price was higher than they thought he was worth at the time. When Dodd saw Girvin at another sale a short time later, they decided to increase what they were willing to offer to $130,000 and they were able to purchase him.
Girvin moved to Ocala where he and Irap lived only a few stalls apart.
"Same barn, close to the same stall," Grady told Bourbon and Barns earlier this year. "It's real crazy, honestly."
Grady and Dodd prepped Girvin for the same two-year-old-in-training sale where Irap helped them turn a nice profit. Unfortunately, Girvin developed a small injury and wasn’t able to enter the sale. Without a buyer for Girvin, Grady and Dodd left with no choice but to hold on to Girvin and race him themselves.
Girvin went on to break his maiden in December and then finished second in a stakes race at Fair Grounds in February. Girvin then won the Risen Star by two lengths and the Louisiana Derby by 1 ¼ lengths.
Girvin didn’t race again until Saturday when he went off as the prohibitive favorite in the Ohio Derby where he held a 1 ½-length lead at the top of the stretch before falling just short to his former stablemate Irap at the wire.
In six lifetime starts, Girvin has three wins and two second-place finishes and earnings of $974,400.