Monday Morning Mig: Analyzing Irap’s Upset Blue Grass Win

Irap (right) held on late to post a huge upset in the April 8 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes with Julien Leparoux aboard. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Retired jockey Richard Migliore, who works as a racing analyst for the New York Racing Association, offers his expertise from the perspective of a professional rider in a regular feature for America's Best Racing — Monday Morning Mig. A winner of 4,450 career races and the 1981 Eclipse Award as outstanding apprentice will review key races on the Triple Crown trail and the road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, providing his thoughts leading into the race, insights about what happened during the running of the race and key takeaways from the outcome.

This week, Migliore takes a closer look at the April 8 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course.

1. The Post Positions: The three horses I expected to run well, McCraken from post No. 2, J Boys Echo from post No. 3 and Tapwrit from post No. 4, all drew well.

2. The Start: As expected, Wild Shot broke alertly and went straight to the lead with the eventual winner Irap stalking him intently. The favorite McCraken broke outwardly at the start and seemed a little keen into the first turn.

3. The Big Move: Julien Leparoux allowing Irap to assume the lead down the backstretch taking advantage of the slow pace was key to his victory. Joel Rosario moving early with runner-up Practical Joke gave him his best opportunity to win.

4. The Big Miss: McCraken was never in a comfortable position between horses and was shuffled back into the second turn.

5. The Finish: Irap was able to fend off Practical Joke through the stretch because of the slow pace. I didn't expect a maiden to win the Blue Grass and thought J Boys Echo and Tapwrit to be the major players here. They may have been compromised by the slow pace and did very little running.

6. The Takeaway: The third-place finisher McCraken is the horse I think can move forward from this effort. His training had been interrupted this winter and combined with his tough trip, he can rebound with a better effort in the Kentucky Derby. His trainer Ian Wilkes knows how to get a horse ready for a big day.

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