McCraken was probably the disappointment of the week, but as he did not get an ideal trip and probably needed the race to boot, his prep in the Toyota Blue Grass (USA-G2) may have done more to enhance his Derby chances than a bare reading of the results might suggest. As for the winner, Irap, he is probably a better horse than his odds and his status as a maiden suggested, considering that he had run second in three stakes including the 2016 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (USA-G1). Nonetheless, he was 31-1 in the Blue Grass for a reason, namely his unimpressive fourth place in his last outing, the Sunland Derby (USA-G3). His race in the Blue Grass was solid enough but nothing likely to start a new fan club, and he is not likely to start at anything less than 15-1 in the Derby (and that may be generous) unless he works like a monster between now and the first Saturday in May.
If pedigree means anything, though, Irap does have the potential for serious improvement as he continues maturing. His sire Tiznow took until the second half of his 3-year-old season to come into his own, and his half brother Speightstown waited until age 6 to post the form that made him an American champion sprinter. He will have to do some of that improving very quickly indeed, however, if Paul Reddam is going to hoist the Derby trophy.
Derby pundits will now have to await the outcome of next weekend's Arkansas Derby (USA-G1) to even get the final pieces of this year's Derby puzzle onto the table, much less assemble them to come up with a picture that might possibly be of some use. If Classic Empire runs to his juvenile form, or if unbeaten Malagacy continues building off the level he reached in the Rebel Stakes (USA-G2), fans and turf writers alike may be saluting the newest crown prince. On the other hand, if the Arkansas Derby comes up with yet another surprise winner, it will probably be a fitting conclusion to one of the most chaotic Derby prep seasons in recent memory.