It’s been the sort of year where there shouldn’t be any surprises left on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but as evidenced Saturday, April 8, they just keep coming. Reddam Racing LLC’s Irap broke his maiden and collected 100 Kentucky Derby points in one fell swoop as he beat a talented field in the $1 million G2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes.
Wild Shot broke from the gate well and rushed to the lead off the rail, taking them through an opening quarter in :23.79 and the half-mile in :48.34. Jockey Julien Leparoux held Irap in second through that mark and, approaching the final turn, gave his mount the sign to go. They pulled clear in the stretch but faced a challenge from Practical Joke; Irap dug in, however, and held on to hit the wire ¾ lengths in front. Practical Joke was second with previously unbeaten McCraken another 3 lengths behind in second.
The final time for the 1 ⅛ mile race over the fast track was 1:50.39.
“When he made the lead I thought, ‘that SOB is going to hit the board here,” Reddam said while interviewing with TVG following the race. “Then, about the eighth pole, I was thinking, ‘Man, we have a chance to win here,’ because McCraken had backed out of it and a couple other horses didn’t fire for whatever reason. I really have got to say, Doug did a fantastic job – he and his team. It’s just fantastic feeling to win when you don’t think you’re going to.”
Trainer Doug O’Neil conditions the colt for Reddam. The pair have won two editions of the Kentucky Derby together.
Irap is the first horse to break their maiden in Keeneland’s spring meet signature race. The half brother to Speightstown was winless in his previous seven starts, though he did finish second to Royal Mo in the G3 Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February and Mastery in the G1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity last December. He came into the Blue Grass off a fourth place finish in the Sunland Derby in late March.
“He’s a son of Tiznow, and he has a lot of ability,” O’Neil said. “The fact he was still a maiden was kind of unfortunate, but he’s always been a talented horse. Julien gave him a great ride. Unbelievable.”
“I can’t say I had a lot of confidence (in Irap). But when you look at his races, he was running good.” said the winning jockey. Leparoux is the regular rider of top Derby prospect Classic Empire, who is slated to start in next weekend. “It was a tough field today and what he did was great.”
Irap was bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones and is out of the Storm Cat mare Silken Cat. He was purchased by Dennis O’Neil for $300,000 at the 2016 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March Two-Year-Olds in Training Sale, where he was consigned by Bobby Dodd. The Blue Grass improved his earnings to $772,600.
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