Girvin advanced to the lead in midstretch and edged away to a two-length decision in the February 25 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, capturing the first of 16 races in the Championship segment of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.

Related: Girvin rises to challenge in Risen Star

Trained by Joe Sharp and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., Girvin registered a career-best 98 BRIS Speed rating, a commendable number for a lightly-raced sophomore in his third career start. He vaulted to the top of the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard picking up the 50-point prize, enough points to easily make the 20-horse field every year since the point system originated in 2013.

The second of three Kentucky Derby preps at Fair Grounds, the Risen Star came back faster than the January 21 Lecomte (G3), which resulted in Guest Suite producing only a 93 BRIS Speed rating. Guest Suite received the same number finishing fourth in the Risen Star.

The $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) on April 1 completes the prep series at the New Orleans track.

Girvin took an unorthodox approach to his first start in a Kentucky Derby qualifier, utilizing a one-mile turf stakes (Keith Gee Memorial at Fair Grounds on February 4) as a bridge between his debut maiden tally on the main track in mid-December and the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star. The Tale of Ekati colt finished a close second in the turf race.

Girvin will need to keep improving his BRIS Speed ratings to defeat better 3-year-olds this spring, but he has room for further development off an encouraging victory in the Risen Star.

(Lou Hodges Jr. photo)