August 15, 2018

Irap prohibitive 8-5 choice in 11-horse Indiana Derby

Irap (outside) outduels Girvin in a battle of Kentucky Derby alumni in the Ohio Derby (G3) on June 24, 2017 (c) J.J. Zamaiko photo

Irap has been installed as the overwhelming 8-5 morning line favorite for Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby (G3) at Indiana Grand. And as the lone multiple stakes winner among 11 rivals, Irap’s odds could be much lower come post time. The Tiznow colt will be seeking his third graded tally from the last four starts and Mario Gutierrez retakes the mount for Doug O’Neill in the 1 1/16-mile race.

After dropping his first eight attempts, Irap became the first maiden to win the Blue Grass (G2) when springing a 31-1 upset at Keeneland on April 8. He earned a Kentucky Derby berth as a result but nothing went right at Churchill Downs as Irap got caught up in a chain reaction from post 9, winding up a troubled 18th in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

He returned from a seven-week freshening in the Ohio Derby, courageously running down favored Girvin to prevail by a nose, and registered a 109 BRIS Speed Rating that towers over foes. Another strong showing in the Indiana Derby figures to serve as a springboard toward bigger events like the Travers (G1) and/or Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

Related: Irap nips Girvin in Ohio Derby

Untrapped comes next on the morning line at 6-1. His only career win came in a 2-year-old maiden race, but the Steve Asmussen-trained colt parlayed a series of respectable efforts this winter — finishing second in the Risen Star (G2) and Lecomte (G3) and third in the Rebel (G2) – into enough points for a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. He wasn’t a factor checking in 12th on the first Saturday in May but exits a decent third in the Ohio Derby, 4 ¼ lengths back of the top pair.  Ricardo Santana Jr. will ride.

Wild Shot is the other graded stakes winner in the line-up, posting a four-length decision in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard, and the 8 ½-furlong distance looks like a good fit for the Trappe Shot colt. One of three horses at 8-1, the Rusty Arnold trainee appeared to regress off the big win when coming back with a disappointing seventh in the Woody Stephens (G2) last out and is eligible to show more in this spot with regular rider Corey Lanerie.

Related: Wild Shot thrives on cut back in Pat Day Mile

Hollywood Handsome, a Churchill Downs allowance scorer two back, never got a chance to perform when clipping heels early in the Belmont Stakes, resulting in the jockey losing his irons. Florent Geroux sticks with the Dallas Stewart charge, who is listed at 8-1 along with Awesome Saturday. Trainer Bret Calhoun is testing stakes competition with Awesome Saturday following a three-length romp over allowance/optional claiming rivals at Churchill on June 25. The Any Given Saturday colt has never finished off the board since making his career debut in late February, posting a 2-2-1 record from five starts, and Brian Hernandez Jr. has been up for every start.

Colonelsdarktemper and Society Beau will seek a breakthrough at the level after filling the second and third positions behind McCraken in the June 17 Matt Winn (G3). Brockton George looked like a promising type for Kenny McPeek when breaking his maiden on turf by a three-length margin last November, but the Harlan’s Holiday colt will face a difficult task Saturday given he hasn’t started in the eight-month interim.

Rounding out the field are Han Sense, Top Credentials and Watch Me Whip.

One race prior to the Indiana Derby, eight fillies will square off in the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (G3) and Mopotism is the 7-5 morning favorite for O’Neill following a head second in the June 17 Summertime Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita. Mario Gutierrez is scheduled to ride the stakes-winning daughter of Uncle Mo.

Majestic Quality, who was elevated to third after finishing fourth in the Summertime Oaks, will also invade for the 1 1/16-mile test. Kent Desormeaux has the call for his brother, Keith Desormeaux. Churchill allowance scorer Stonetacular is another runner of interest.

The stakes action kicks off with the $100,000 Indiana General Assembly Distaff at 1 1/16 miles on turf and Grade 2 heroine Linda figures to appreciate the class relief after some decent efforts this year in the Honey Fox (G2), Distaff Turf Mile (G2) and Mint Julep (G3). Hernandez will be up on the 4-year-old filly for Ian Wilkes.

O’Neill will send out Gangster in the $100,000 Warrior Veterans and the 5-year-old is a slight early favorite at 5-2 following a fifth in the Shoemaker Mile (G1) at Santa Anita. Chocolate Ride and Pleuven are a couple of other challengers of note in the 1 1/16-mile turf affair.

La Troienne (G1) winner Big World adds quality to a nine-horse field in the $100,000 Mari Hulman George. Fourth most recently in the Fleur des Lis (G2), the Tom Amoss trainee is the 2-1 choice on the morning line with Hernandez. Brooklynsway is back for a title defense in the 1 1/16-mile race and Matron (G3) runner-up Improv is also part of the mix.

Grade 3 victors Eagle and Fear the Cowboy are top draws in the $100,000 Michael G. Schaefer Memorial at a mile and 70 yards. Mo Tom, a 2016 Kentucky Derby alumni, brings back class but needs to turn things around, with his last visit to the winner’s circle coming 13 months ago in the Ohio Derby. Money Flows and Western Reserve are also in with a chance in the contentious eight-horse cast.

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