If his victory in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G2) was a fluke and his nose win in the Ohio Derby (G3) was just enough, Irap's conquest of the $500,000 Indiana Derby (G3) was the best evidence to date that Reddam Racing's Tiznow colt is the real deal.
With a four-wide move in the final turn at Indiana Grand Race Course, the Doug O'Neill-trained 3-year-old left the rest of the Indiana Derby field in his wake en route to a dominating five-length win under jockey Mario Gutierrez.
"I think you have to (take Irap seriously)," O'Neill said. "He's getting better with each race. We've learned so much from him. We just couldn't be more happy than we are now. And Mario rode just a perfect race. We're just very, very happy."
Outside and in the clear racing in fifth down the backstretch, as grade 3 winner Wild Shot set fractions of :23.71 and :47.71 through the opening half-mile, Gutierrez made his intentions known in the final bend with a bold move on the outside. And when Irap hit the front, it was quickly evident he would be without a challenger in the stretch.
The half brother to champion and sire Speightstown galloped away to run a mile in 1:35.91 and finished off the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.21. Longshot Colonelsdarktemper came in second, 1 3/4 lengths ahead of second-choice Untrapped.
After his maiden-breaking win in the Blue Grass and an 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), Irap has now won consecutive races for the first time in his 11-race career.
"He's definitely grown up since then (the Kentucky Derby)," Gutierrez said. "He was very unlucky in that race and he was a bit immature back then. He has matured a lot and he showed that today."
Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones, out of the Storm Cat mare Silken Cat, Irap has earned more than $1.3 million. He has a 3-3-1 record and was purchased by Dennis O'Neill, brother of Doug, for $300,000 at the 2016 Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. March 2-year-olds in training sale.
After the race owner Paul Reddam indicated another high-profile, high-purse 3-year-old race is in Irap's future.
"Hopefully it begins with a 'T.'" Reddam said, making a not-so-subtle reference to the Aug. 26 Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course. "We'll take our shot at the big boys again."