A month ago, when the Fair Grounds was going through its equine virus scare, Girvin was stalled at Evangeline Downs and missed the Lecomte Stakes because he couldn't get to the New Orleans racetrack.
In May, though, he will be in the Kentucky Derby after he won the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes over 1 1/16 miles Saturday at the Fair Grounds.
Girvin surged in the stretch to overcome Untrapped and Local Hero and win by two lengths. The victory is worth 50 points in Kentucky Derby qualifying, assuring Girvin will be among the 20 horses in the race that kicks off the Triple Crown.
“We believed in this horse all along,” trainer Joe Sharp said. “But you have to stack him up against competition and make him prove himself, and he did that and then some (Saturday).”
Fifty, 20, 10 and five points were awarded to the Risen Star's top four finishers. Untrapped, who was among the top three from the start of the race, finished a strong second, and Local Hero, who led from the start until past the turn for the stretch, was a neck back in third. Guest Suite, winner of the Lecomte for 3-year-olds on Jan. 21, was fourth.
Sharp had run Girvin on turf in the Keith Gee Memorial Overnight Stakes on Feb. 4 at the Fair Grounds in his previous race just to get him some work before the Risen Star. He finished second in that one.
“He did have a little setback from a foot (bruise), which is why we opted to have a two-turn race in the turf race before this race,” Sharp said. “We were concerned about coming off a (Dec. 16) maiden race (win) without a two-turn experience, and it ended up working out perfectly, timing-wise.”
On Saturday, Girvin's condition appeared superb, seemingly coming out of nowhere to capture a huge win.
“He was in fifth (place),” jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. said. “When we turned for home and we got inside (favorite) Mo Town and he didn't go with me, I thought I was on the best horse. Now we have one of the top horses for the Louisiana Derby (on April 1).”
Mo Town, the 7-2 favorite based on winning the $300,000 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving day, finished fifth.