Girvin proved his win in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds in New Orleans was no fluke when he duplicated the feat on April 1 in the Louisiana Derby over the same track.
The son of Tale of Ekati sits atop the Kentucky Derby points’ board with 150 and the Joe Sharp trainee came out of the mile-and-one-eighth race in good order. “It doesn’t feel bad (to have a Kentucky Derby horse),” Sharp said. “He’s a talented horse. We’re enjoying the ride. It’s great connections and a great owner and it has been a real team effort.”
Girvin settled in mid-pack after the break and waited for jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. to give him his head going four wide around the far turn to take the lead at the top of the stretch and win by more than a length.
“He’s such a talented horse,” Hernandez said. “He puts a lot of confidence in you. Today my biggest thing was when I saw Local Hero settle as well as he did, I wanted to stay behind (him) and give myself a target. Every time I needed him he was there for me. Turning for home, he got to switching leads back and forth, but he was kind of just messing around.”
Patch was second with Local Hero third and Hollywood Handsome fourth.
The Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach was the other points’ race on April 1 and Always Dreaming got a dream trip to take down the 100 points and secure a spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby.
Pre-race favorite Gunnevera broke from the 10-hole and that was his undoing from the start. He left the gate slowly and was last going into the clubhouse turn. He settled going down the backstretch and made a run turning for home to end up third.
One of these days Gulfstream Park will figure out how to run mile-and-a-sixteenth and mile-and-and-eighth races where the outside horses are not at such a disadvantage because of the first turn coming up so quickly. Since the track was rebuilt to its current size, very few horses have won races breaking from the outside posts.
Always Dreaming is from the first crop of Bodemeister and he looks to have lots of potential. He lightly race, breaking his maiden in late January and winning an allowance race on March 4 at Gulfstream.
State of Honor was second and Impressive Edge was fourth in the Florida Derby.
The remaining points’ races have a top prize of 100 points each except for the Lexington on April 15 at Keeneland in Kentucky. There only are five points’ race left with the Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby and Blue Grass on April 8 and the Arkansas Derby on April 15.
My top 10 picks for this week are: (The full points’ list can be found at the Churchill Downs web site)
Gunnevera 84 points
Always Dreaming 100
Thunder Snow 100
Classic Empire 32