Girvin wins 2017 Louisiana Derby

Joe Sharp in the Risen Star winner's circle with Girvin

Joe Sharp in the Risen Star winner's circle with Girvin

It was minutes after the Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby had been run, and, as last month in the Grade 2 Risen Star here at Fair Grounds, it was Hernandez and Girvin who had won it, continuing a terrific run of success this Kentucky Derby season for the veteran jockey.

"With the way he's trained, there is no reason to think he wouldn't come back as good as he was". Girvin's prep season is over, McCraken still has to run in the Blue Grass Stakes next Saturday at Keeneland. It doesn't always work that way at Derby time. Hernandez was going to be in a auto all night heading to Lexington to work McCraken on Sunday morning.

Impressive Edge was forwardly placed outside horses into the stretch but failed to respond to heavy urging through the final quarter, finishing a tiring fourth in his two-turn debut. But he also wanted to cherish what has transpired so far.

"We're enjoying the ride", Sharp said.

Pletcher said Always Dreaming came out of that race exceptionally well, trained as well as any horse he had at Palm Beach Downs this winter, and after his performance in the Florida Derby still believes his horse has ample room for improvement.

Girvin did his part Saturday.

Girvin, the favorite, beat Patch by 1¼ lengths and was three lengths ahead of Local Hero - who might now be Kentucky-possible as well.

Sorry Erik (Kent Desormeaux, jockey), Senior Investment (Channing Hill), Guest Suite (Robby Albarado), Hotfoot (James Graham) and Monaco (Rajiv Maragh) completed the order of finish. "Unfortunately the way that race unfolded, he found himself on the lead, Johnny just waited and asked him to finish up the last eighth of a mile and to be honest, we didn't learn a whole lot that day". He earned $600,000 to increase his career bankroll to $874,400 in just his fourth career start.

In his third start, Girvin ran away with the G2 Risen Star, winning by two lengths at odds of eight to one. He had to work harder this time, but the result was the same. Now he's a few weeks away from stepping onto the grounds of Churchill Downs for the first time, assuming Gunnevera - a victor in four of his last six starts, with three of those victories coming in graded stakes races - gets out of this weekend with no problems. (Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photos via AP) This March 4, 2017, photo provided by Coglianese Photos shows trainer Antonio Sano after a race at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. But he answered questions as gamely as Girvin was in the stretch.

"It doesn't feel bad [to have a Kentucky Derby horse]", Sharp admitted. "He gave me all he had". He's made just four starts, but he's come a long ways since his debut win here December 16. Though some, including last year's Louisiana Derby victor Gun Runner (Candy Ride ), have run with credit beneath the Twin Spires, Brad Grady's Girvin (Tale of Ekati) will head to Louisville with a live shot after turning in yet another convincing performance as the favorite in Saturday's Fair Grounds feature. Sano's road to the Kentucky Derby will be like no other.

Fast forward eight years, and the 54-year-old Sano has a horse named Gunnevera, the favorite for Saturday's Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and one that seems to already be among the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby. Patch rallied up the rail, but he was not a serious threat to Girvin in the late going. "He's a talented horse. He puts a lot of confidence in me", Hernandez said. "I'm working for their better". "When I saw that Local Hero settled better than he did last time, I gave myself a target". "Turning for home, he got to switching leads back and forth, but he was kind of just messing around".

"He ran his race, ideal trip", Hernandez said. Every time I needed him he was there for me.

Gaffalione was very pleased with his mount's effort, which was only his third start, first around two turns and first since breaking his maiden six weeks ago at Gulfstream Park.

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