With a 20-horse field, muddy conditions and no real “stand out” horses this year, the 2017 Derby is a bit of a toss up. The baby pictures are adorable, although there a few I wouldn’t have pegged for the kind of speed necessary to qualify for the Derby.
Here are a few interesting things about tomorrow’s runners.
Patch (named before he lost his eye) is the crowd favorite and underdog.
Girvin, who is ridden by Mike Smith (the winner of today’s Kentucky Oaks) was a hot contender until he developed a quarter crack. Fran Jurga wrote an interesting article that describes how Girvin is being shod for the big race. He did win the Louisiana Derby (Patch was second) on April 1st, so it’s possible that the quarter crack won’t keep him down.
Girvin is named after the small town in Texas where owner Brad Grady grew up. Just 30 people live there. Maybe the horse will put the town on the map!
Gunnevera, is an interesting contender, having one four of his last seven starts, but his trainer has a rally interesting story. The horse would
Antonio Sano is the survivor of two kidnappings in his home-country of Venezuela, a story documented well by Marcus Hersh of Daily Racing Form (via ESPN.com). The second time he was held for 36 days while his family and friends raised the ransom money. Sano purchased Gunnevera as a yearling for just $16K, a relative bargain for a Derby contender.
Irap got his name when the yet- unnamed baby horse needed Interluekin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein therapy, a procedure commonly called IRAP. When a van driver saw the word “IRAP” on the papers, he assumed it was the horse’s name. It stuck.
Classic Empire is known as “Racing’s Bad Boy.” Although he’s the current favorite, the colt has some quirks. Occasionally, he just doesn’t want to play the game. In 2016 he made a U-turn a few strides into the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, dumped his rider and then came to a dead stop. Twice he’s refused to break for timed workouts. So it all depends on how he feels tomorrow at 6:30!