First-crop sires: Girvin attracts attention
Represented by a pair of juvenile stakes winners, most notably 3 1/4-length Saratoga Special (G2) winner Damon’s Mound, Girvin is off to a fast start from his first crop. The eight-year-old stallion stands at Ocala Stud in Florida.
The Grade 1-winning earner of more than $1.6 million produced 67 named foals from his first crop, yielding 10 winners from 20 starters so far. His early success has come in sprints, and given that Girvin recorded all three of his stakes wins at two-turn distances, there’s reason for optimism when his offspring stretch out in distance.
By Tale of Ekati, Girvin passed through the auction ring multiple times before being purchased privately by Brad Grady. The Kentucky-bred colt is the first of four graded stakes winners from the unraced Malibu Moon, who is also responsible Grade 3-winning and six-time Grade 1-placed millionaire Bourbon Thunder along with Grade 3 victors Cocked and Loaded and Pirate’s Punch, and Girvin was trained throughout his 10-race career by Joe Sharp.
The dark bay captured his only start as a two-year-old, and lone sprint appearance, when taking a six-furlong maiden special weight at Fair Grounds in mid-December 2016. Transferred to turf for his sophomore opener in early February, Girvin finished a close second in the Keith Gee Memorial S.
He switched back to the main track with a two-length upset in the Risen Star (G2) three weeks later, and Girvin confirmed himself as a contender for the 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) in the Louisiana Derby (G2) next out, rallying to a 1 1/4-length victory from just off the pace.
Girvin experienced trouble from the start at Churchill Downs, bumped and steadied repeatedly before spitting the bit in a 13th-place Derby effort. He came back nearly two months later in the Ohio Derby (G3), finishing a nose second as the odds-on favorite, but progressed nicely off the setback in the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1).
Dismissed at 9-1, Girvin determinedly got up four-wide in the stretch to prevail by a nose at Monmouth Park. His three-year-old concluded with a pair of forgettable starts, and Girvin raced only once at age four, finishing second in the Steve Sexton Mile (G3) to subsequent Met Mile (G1) winner Bee Jersey.
Freakish offspring talent
A well-respected conditioner, Michelle Lovell isn’t known for winning with first-time starters and Damon’s Mound brought uninspiring female bloodlines to his career debut, a salty maiden special weight on the June 2 Stephen Foster undercard at Churchill Downs. However, clockers were aware of his ability in the mornings, and Damon’s Mound was bet down to 4-1 from 12-1 on the morning line.
The bay colt missed the break, breaking toward the rear of the field, then launched a quarter-horse type move along the backstretch and into the far turn to accelerate to a clear lead. This kind of premature move often catches up with young horses, but Damon’s Mound didn’t appear to have taken a deep breath when he reached the top of the stretch with a widening advantage. Gabriel Saez took his mount in hand through the final furlongs, and Damon’s Mound cruised to a 12 1/2-length decision, earning a respectable 93 Brisnet Speed rating at first asking.
Next came the Aug. 13 Saratoga Special at 6 1/2 furlongs, and the competition got much stiffer. Unbeaten Gulfport, a romping winner of the Bashford Manor S. at Churchill, was bet down to odds-on, and Damon’s Mound left the starting gate as the 9-5 second choice among four runners.
He kept rolling impressively, scoring from just off the pace by 3 1/4 lengths, and continued to show signs of immaturity while lugging in after refusing to change leads cleanly in upper stretch. Damon’s Mound received another 93 Speed rating, and we probably haven’t seen the best of him yet. Lovell plans to stretch out the Cliff and Michelle Love-owned colt to two turns in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland on Oct. 8, which will be a prep for the Nov. 4 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland.
Devious Dame, a convincing debut winner at Churchill in early May, provided Girvin with his first stakes victory when capturing the June 9 Astoria S. at Belmont Park by 5 1/4 lengths. The Norm Casse-trained filly will look to rebound next time after faltering as the odds-on favorite in the recent Sorority S. at Monmouth Park.
Other winners sired by Girvin include Del Mar maiden special weight victor Mister Iceman, Gulfstream maiden special weight winners Apocalypso and Commandant, and the filly U Glow Girl, a 7 1/4-length scorer over Saratoga maiden special weight rivals for Brad Cox on Aug. 17.