Girvin Flies Last-To-First, Noses Out McCraken In Haskell Invitational

Brad Grady's Girvin was nearly 13 lengths behind the leaders around the first turn in Sunday's Grade 1 betfair.com Haskell Invitational, but came flying down the center of the course under Robby Albarado to nip McCraken on the wire by a nose, taking his first top-level victory. The 3-year-old son of Tale of Ekati is also the first Grade 1 winner for young trainer Joe Sharp, and covered 1 1/8 miles over Monmouth Park's fast main track in 1:48.35. McCraken was just in front of Practical Joke in third, and it was several lengths back to Irish War Cry in fourth.

The Haskell victory earns Girvin an expenses-paid berth to the Breeders' Cup Classic this fall at Del Mar.

Practical Joke broke a bit inward at the start just as his stablemate Timeline was a half-step slow out of the gate, and Practical Joke angled in a bit to force Battle of Midway over to the inside rail as Irish War Cry set out for the lead. The bumping at the start allowed Battle of Midway to work his way inside Irish War Cry and take over the front position before the first turn, pushing out to a one-length advantage over Irish War Cry in second and marking the first quarter in :23.83.

Timeline, meanwhile, had rushed up between horses and was fighting jockey Javier Castellano behind Irish War Cry. Castellano had little choice but to angle him three-wide and allow him to challenge Battle of Midway for the lead. Timeline and Battle of Midway battled through a half in :47.34, with a three-wide Irish War Cry tracking the pace from third. Practical Joke was tucked in at the rail in fourth, and Hence, McCraken, and Girvin made up the tail of the field.

Though those back three were several lengths behind Practical Joke, with Girvin nearly 13 lengths behind Battle of Midway early on, they began to close the gap on the frontrunners approaching the far turn. The field got crowded very quickly as Irish War Cry made it a three-wide battle for the lead with Timeline and Battle of Midway at the rail. McCraken was bold with a four-wide bid while Girvin and Albarado waited until the straight, saving groud.

Timeline and Battle of Midway both gave way, and McCraken put away Irish War Cry to take the lead at the three-sixteenths pole. He had a two-length cushion, but Practical Joke and Girvin both hit their best stride in the middle of the track and were closing in on McCraken in the final eighth of a mile.

It wasn't until the last jump before the wire that Girvin put his nose in front of McCraken, but Albarado had timed it perfectly to nail that rival on the wire. Practical Joke, between those two, was beaten no more than a neck in third, and it was several lengths back to Irish War Cry in fourth.

Bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte, Girvin was originally purchased as a pinhook prospect for the relatively new owner Brad Grady. A $130,000 yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Sale, the colt had several minor issues which kept him from making it to any of the juvenile sales in 2016. Grady decided to keep the colt, naming him Girvin after his hometown in Texas, and sent him to trainer Joe Sharp.

Girvin did not debut until December of his 2-year-old season, but won at first asking at the Fair Grounds. Due to the EHV infection at the New Orleans oval, Girvin could not ship back in from the Evangeline training center to make his second start until early February; Sharp had to enter him in a two-turn turf stake in order to get the route experience he would need to contest the Derby trail. Girvin responded with a hard-found second in the Keith Gee Memorial on the grass, then at the end of February came home on top in the Risen Star by two lengths.

In the G2 Louisiana Derby, Girvin was again successful despite a wide trip, but problems with a quarter crack had the colt missing some training leading up to the Kentucky Derby. He finished 13th on the first Saturday in May, returning in the Ohio Derby with a rough trip to just miss behind Irap. Overall, Girvin had a record of four wins and two seconds from seven starts, and has earned over $1.5 million.

The post Girvin Flies Last-To-First, Noses Out McCraken In Haskell Invitational appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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