2017 Kentucky Derby Horse Profile for Irap

IrapMr. and Mrs. J. S. Moss' Royal Mo and jockey Victor Espinoza, right, outleg Sheer Flattery (Mike Smith), left, and Irap (Mario Gutierrez), center, to win the Grade III, $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Saturday, February 4, 2017 at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA. (Benoit Photo)

Irap Career Statistics

Starts: 8

Wins: 1

Places: 3 `

Shows: 1

Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings: $744,000

Owner: Reddam Racing, LLC

Trainer: Doug O’Neill

Jockey: Mario Gutierrez

Pedigree: Tiznow – Silken Cat, by Storm Cat

Recent Finish: 1st, Blue Grass Stakes, G2 (4/817)

Notable Wins:  Blue Grass Stakes

Irap History

Irap pulled the surprise of the Derby trail. Still a maiden through seven starts, He went into the starting gate at the Blue Grass Stakes as the 31-1 longshot. He tracked the leader and then took the lead at the three-quarter pole and never looked back, digging in down the stretch to hold off Practical Joke with top Derby contender McCraken nearly four lengths behind in 3rd. Derby runners J Boys Echo and Tapwrit were much further back in 4th and 5th.

Irap working at Churchill Downs

Irap had three runner-up finishes in stakes races including the Robert B. Lewis (G3) in February won by Royal Mo and the Cash Call Futurity (G1) as the longshot and well behind winner Mastery. The Cash Call Futurity was his first start on dirt after his connections thought they had a grass horse on their hands.

Trainer Doug O’Neill has been very pleased with Irap’s Blue Grass performance and work at Keeneland leading up to his arrival at Churchill Downs April 30.

“He looks phenomenal,” said O’Neill, who used Keeneland as his prime training base last spring with eventual Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist. “I thought he went great,” O’Neill said after Irap breezed a mile in 1:44.  

Irap will have a new rider for the Derby, as Mario Gutierrez takes over with Julien Leparoux riding Classic Empire. The O’Neill/Gutierrez team have won the Derby with I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016).

Some key speed figures and stats for Irap:

  • Final 3/8ths time in Blue Grass Stakes – :38.03 seconds
  • Career-best 93 Beyer Speed Figure in Blue Grass
  • Improved Beyer Speed Figures his last three races, 73, 79, 93
  • First maiden to ever win the Blue Grass Stakes
  • Last Blue Grass winner to come back and capture Kentucky Derby was Strike the Gold in 1991

Horses that are finishing strongly at the end of their prep races are more likely to handle the distance of the Kentucky Derby (1 ¼ miles) than horses that are tiring at the end of their prep races. Thus, many handicappers believe one of the key factors to emphasize is how fast each contender ran the last three-eighths of a mile in their final prep race.

He ran a final 3/8 mile in 38.03 seconds in his final prep at the Blue Grass. Generally, a final three-eighths time of less than 38 seconds is considered good, while anything over 39 seconds is slow. Of course, these times can be affected by a variety of factors, including the speed of the racetrack and the early pace of the race (it’s easier to finish fast if you’ve gone very slow early on). However, the fact remains that each of the last five Kentucky Derby winners – and 15 of the last 20 – ran the last three-eighths of their final Derby prep race in less than 38 seconds. Ten Derby horses fit that speed figure profile, and Irap just missed over :38 seconds.

Pedigree: Irap is a 3-year-old son of Tiznow, and the last foal produced from the late Canadian champion Silken Cat, a Storm Cat mare who also produced Speighstown, the champion sprinter who was among the leading sires of 2012-13.

Derby Dreams: Irap is has projected odds of 10-1 to 14-1, and he could go off longer on race day and especially if he draws a way wide post. While he’s improving, He is not likely to get into the money when the real running begins down the stretch. I’ve not completely thrown him out with the Derby post draw ahead, but not convinced this stalker will hold up against faster horses up front with capable closers able to make a stronger move down the lane at the 1 ¼ mile Derby distance.

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