Brad Grady’s lightly raced Girvin provided an upset that few saw coming on Saturday, February 25 as he took the $400,000 Gr.2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course in a shocking performance. It was just his second start on dirt.
Local Hero snatched the lead from the start as expected, maintaining his position for the majority of the race while Mo Town tracked him in second. Girvin settled along the rail in fifth to save ground under Brian Hernandez, Jr. as the leader ticked off fractions of :23.70 and :47.02. At the head of the lane, the leader maintained his advantage, but proved no match for the winner. Hernandez angled his mount out under left-handed urging, then switched his stick to his right hand and the turn of foot unleashed left the others in their dust. The pair hit the wire two lengths in front of Untrapped. Local Hero was another two lengths behind in third.
The final time for the 1 1/16 mile race was 1:43.08 over a fast track.
“Joe and the team did a great job knowing where they needed to be with this horse,” Hernandez said. “But we have to give all the credit to Girvin. He traveled like a true professional and in just his third career start to do what he did today proves what a special horse he is. From here on, the races will get tougher but he’s the right kind of horse. He has a lot of athletic ability and he looks like he’ll keep getting better and better.”
The dark bay son of Tale of Ekati debuted for trainer Joe Sharp in mid-December in a six-furlong maiden race at Fair Grounds, winning by a head. He returned February 4 in the one-mile Keith Gee Memorial Overnight Stakes at the same track, this time on turf, and ran second. The Risen Star, which was his first graded stakes effort and just his third start, boosted his earnings to $274,400.
“It’s unbelievable, I lost my voice,” said Sharp. “We believed in this horse all along, but you never know how good they are until you stack them up against the competition. We had all the confidence in the world in (jockey) Brian (Hernandez, Jr.). But we’re in shock.”
The Risen Star was Fair Grounds first race in the “Championship Series” of races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, offering points to the top four finishers in a 50-20-10-5 fashion. The victory puts Girvin in first place on the leaderboard.
Sharp plans to keep Girvin at Fair Grounds and would like to run him in the Louisiana Derby.
Girvin was bred in Kentucky by Bob Austin and John Witte and is out of the Malibu Moon mare Catch the Moon. He was consigned by Legacy Bloodstock at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, where Grand Oaks purchased him for $130,000.