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    Posted byadmin on Sunday, April 11 @ 13:02:48 EDT
    Contributed by admin

    Jerry Crawford proclaimed “Iowa is going to the Kentucky Derby” on Saturday.
    Well, at least nine Iowans are.

    Paddy O’Prado put himself in position for a spot in the 20-horse Derby field by finishing second in the $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky.

    Paddy O’Prado is owned by the Donegal Racing group headed by Crawford, a Des Moines attorney and the managing owner of the Iowa Energy basketball team.

    The May 1 Derby is limited to 20 horses with the most earnings in graded stakes races. The $150,000 that Paddy O’Prado earned by finishing second in the Blue Grass gives him $250,950 in graded stakes winnings, which ranks 19th among the nation’s 3-year-olds.

    The 10-person Donegal partnership includes nine from Iowa — Crawford, Gary Kirke Sr., Gary Kirke Jr., Peter De Coster, Dennis Allbaugh, Jason Loutsch, Judi Smith, George Cataldo and Dr. William Jacobson — as well as Joe Savage from Boston.

    Two years ago, they bought eight yearlings, essentially picked out by Crawford, for a combined $500,000 in hopes of getting a Derby runner.

    “We only bought horses that we thought could run classic distances, so we knew if we had a good one, he would have a chance,” Crawford said. “But, the odds are overwhelmingly against you. Out of 40,000 foals, you’re trying to get one of 20 (to make the Derby).”

    Paddy O’Prado, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, went off at odds of 9-2, the second betting choice behind 3-1 favorite Interactif. He stalked the pace for the first three-fourths of a mile before taking the lead going into the far turn.

    He was a half-length in front in mid-stretch, but couldn’t hold off 40-1 long shot Stately Victor’s finishing kick.

    “The race went exactly as we drew it up,” Crawford said. “We put away the favorites, but who knew Stately Victor would come out of the clouds like he did? A third of the way down the stretch, I was convinced we had it won, until Stately Victor made his run.”

    Paddy O’Prado showed potential last year, but was winless in three starts. However, he won the Grade III Palm Beach Stakes last month for his first victory and followed up with a strong effort in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes, one of the most prestigious of the Derby preps.

    “When he was a 2-year-old, we knew he could run,” Crawford said. “He was just a big kid that didn’t have his head together. We knew that if he matured, we’d have a good horse.”

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