Nosy Girvin beats McCraken to wire

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

OCEANPORT, N.J. — Louisiana Derby win­ner Girvin un­leashed a dra­matic rally in deep stretch to beat McCraken by a nose Sun­day for a 9-1 up­set in the $1 mil­lion Haskell In­vi­ta­tional at Mon­mouth Park.

The vic­tory moved Girvin into con­tention for top hon­ors in this sea­son’s wide-open 3-year-old di­vi­sion.

Robby Al­barado was aboard for trainer Joe Sharp, who scored the big­gest vic­tory of his ca­reer.

The Triple Crown pro­duced three dif­fer­ent win­ners: Al­ways Dream­ing in the Ken­tucky Derby, Cloud Com­put­ing in the Preak­ness and Tap­writ in the Bel­mont Stakes.

The Jim Dandy on Sat­ur­day at Saratoga only mud­dled

the pic­ture as Good Sa­mar­i­tan pulled an up­set while Al­ways Dream­ing ran third with Cloud Com­put­ing fifth.

This was a state­ment race for Girvin who has bat­tled hoof cracks all year. The win­ner of the Risen Star Stakes and the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in New Or­leans fin­ished 13th in the Ken­tucky Derby be­fore re­bound­ing with a sec­ond in the Ohio Derby.

The Haskell was the first Grade 1 vic­tory for Girvin and Sharp. And it fea­tured sev­eral twists and turns.

Early speed­sters Bat­tle of Mid­way, third in the Ken­tucky Derby, and Time­line, the 9-5 fa­vorite, did not get clean breaks as they were both bumped at the start.

The jostling cost both early po­si­tion­ing be­fore they re­cov­ered to set the early pace with Ir­ish War Cry, the 2-1 sec­ond choice, sit­ting right be­hind in third.

Those three led through the first 6 fur­longs over Mon­mouth’s tra­di­tion­ally speed-fa­vor­ing sur­face.

This Haskell be­longed to the closers.

Girvin en­coun­tered plenty of trou­ble on his own. The early trailer in the seven-horse field, Girvin squeezed be­tween ri­vals to launch his bid down the back­stretch. He an­gled out­side on the fi­nal turn but had to wait for traf­fic clear­ance for kick­ing into high gear.

The pace­set­ters were fad­ing as the field turned for home and McCracken, eighth in the Ken­tucky Derby, pounced to grab the lead. He ap­peared on his way to the vic­tory un­til Girvin and Prac­ti­cal Joke, fifth in the Ken­tucky Derby, mov­ing in tan­dem, surged in the fi­nal fur­long.

“I just had to trust my horse and his abil­ity to get out and run them down, and he did,” Al­barado said.

The stretch run had Sharp

“I just had to trust my horse and his abil­ity to get out and run them down, and he did.” — Jockey Robby Al­barado, who rode Girvin to vic­tory in the Haskell In­vi­ta­tional

on edge.

“Robby made me a lit­tle ner­vous,” Sharp said. “It was a long stretch. Thank God that it was.”

McCraken was the hard­luck loser, com­ing out on the wrong end of the photo fin­ish.

“Turn­ing for home, he put in a huge run,” jockey Brian Her­nan­dez Jr. said. “I thought we might have it, but he just couldn’t hold off that other horse.”

Sharp said the $1.25 mil­lion Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 26 is “a con­sid­er­a­tion” for Girvin’s next start.

“The tim­ing for the Travers is good,” he said.

The time was 1:48.35 for 11/8 miles be­fore 35,303 fans on a sunny af­ter­noon on the Jersey Shore.

Girvin earned $600,000 for owner Brad Grady, a Texas cat­tle­man who owns a farm in Grand­view as well as an oil and gas equip­ment rental com­pany.

The Haskell was a Breed­ers’ Cup Chal­lenge race. Girvin earned an au­to­matic berth in the $6 mil­lion Clas­sic on Nov. 4 at Del Mar.

Girvin paid $20.40, $9.20 and $4.80 for his fourth vic­tory in seven starts.

McCracken re­turned $7.20 and $4.40. Prac­ti­cal Joke paid $3.80 to show.

Ir­ish War Cry was fourth fol­lowed by Time­line, Bat­tle of Mid­way and Hence, re­cent win­ner of the Iowa Derby who fin­ished 11th in Ken­tucky.


Girvin (left), with Robby Al­barado rid­ing, won the 50th run­ning of the $1,000,000 Grade I Haskell In­vi­ta­tional on Sun­day at Mon­mouth Park in Oceanport, N.J.

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