There’s something about Girvin that means we should take him very seriously

Girvin wins the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds last Saturday. Photo:

How good was Saturday’s Louisiana Derby as a Kentucky Derby trial? James Willoughby, who is assessing each of the Derby trials using the tools available to him via the TRC Global Rankings algorithm, gives his verdict.

Trial number: 20 of 27
TRC trial rank: #9
Trial name: Louisiana Derby    
Grade: 2
Our Grade: 2
Course: Fair Grounds  
Date: April 1, 2017
Distance: 9f
Going: Fast
Winner: Girvin
Winner Expected RPR: 114.8
Winner Actual RPR: 110
Winning Trainer: Joe Sharp (TRC Global Ranking: #241)
Winning Jockey: Brian Hernandez (#75)
Winning Owner: Brad Grady (#373)
Winning Sire: Tale Of Ekati (#153)


The modest numbers produced by Girvin here dictate that we stick to the Risen Star analysis. But the very fact that Girvin followed up here makes it more likely that the same verdict is wrong.

On the face of it, the Joe Sharp-trained colt has beaten two fields barely deserving of Grade 2 status in the grand scheme of things. But, as was admitted last time, there is something about Girvin’s racing character that suggests he could rate a fair bit higher than a Racing Post Rating of 110, which is nowhere near good enough to figure at Churchill Downs.

For, as the video reminds us, this is a strong and determined colt in the hottest part of any race. Brian Hernandez, his jockey, had to give ground to make a challenge, and there was a stride or two where his mount became a little unbalanced while switching leads, but, when levelling out at the furlong-pole, there was only one winner.

Girvin isn’t an impressive horse to behold, but who cares about that with his talent to run? There is a chance that the physical element of the Derby could get to him in a way it hasn’t yet, but, if this kind of detail is becoming the focus, it is surely because Girvin is ticking off all the other boxes one by one.

The Equibase chart details splits of 23.46 – 23.54 – 24.15 – 25.65 – 12.97 (25.94 pro-rated) for this, so it was a proper test out there, thanks mainly to the exuberance of Hotfoot and Monaco early (the pair occupied the last two positions at the line). Girvin has therefore no fears about facing a stronger pace over ten furlongs, for he should be rolling late.

This is a colt to whom the numbers are not really doing justice at the moment. But the numbers are unequivocal: Girvin has caught two weak groups for his Risen Star and Louisiana Derby wins. Maybe we will keep saying that when he starts winning Triple Crown races too?

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