Nagirroc sets track record in Murphy triumph

Trainer Graham Motion found on Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course a big home turf advantage for his three-year old Nagirroc in the $100,000 James Murphy Stakes one race prior to the Preakness.  Under jockey Flavien Prat, who won five weekend stakes at PImlico, Nagirroc recorded a flashy 3 ¼-length victory in the Murphy.

Nagirroc was even-money in the Murphy after finishing second to frontrunning Mo Stash in the Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland April 7.

Breaking from the outside gate, jockey Flavien Prat ran Nagirroc even with five runners that had lined up under the wire the first time.  Prat dropped back sharply going under the wire the first time and angled towards the rail prior to the first turn, finding ample space for easy running.

As each pace contender dropped back after sharp early quarters of 22.44 and 46.15, Nagirroc inherited their position until he was third going up the backstretch behind Funtastic Again and Fadethenoise.  Once in the far turn, Nagirroc drew alongside Funtastic and found margins easy to widen after straightening up at the top of the stretch.  

Inside the 3/16ths, Prat gave a Ron Turcotte-like look back and found the last furlong easy traveling, stopping the timer at 1:33.11 for a new course record. It was one of two two-turn track records set on the day at Pimlico; Never Explain set a nine-furlong course record in the Grade 3 Dinner Party for older runners.

“We were able to get a good position into the first turn and save ground,” said Prat.  “He was traveling really well all the way around.”


After earning second in the Transylvania Stakes, a Grade 3 event, at Keeneland going a mile and a sixteenth, Motion considered going to the American Turf at Churchill Downs.  While most of the Transylvania field stayed in Kentucky to race on the first Saturday in May on the Churchill Downs turf, Motion brought Nagirroc back home to Fair Hill.

Nagirroc won the James Murphy Stakes. Photo by Allison Janezic.

“We all talked about it,” said Motion after the race.  “We just thought it was too quick to run back at Churchill. We just wanted to give him the time.  This is close to home.”

Nagorric raced with blinkers on for the first time in his seven-race career that now includes three wins without finishing out of the money. 

“At least we won one earlier, but my horse has run great in the other stakes,” said Motion about Nagirroc’s three previous starts.  “We just didn’t come away with anything, so this definitely has made our day.   I think he’s legit.  The other two horses that beat him from Europe are really good horses.”

Nagirroc paid $4.00 to win and topped an exacta that returned $9.00 for a one-dollar wager.

Earlier on the Pimlico card, Motion saddled three horses in each of two earlier turf stakes races, the Gallorette and the Dinner Party, without finding the winner’s circle.  One of his horses, Amani’s Image won an allowance earlier in the card.

Nagirroc is by Lea out of the Zamindar mare Emma Spencer (IRE).  Chervenell Thoroughbreds LLC bred Nagirroc, who is owned by a conglomerate of entities including Little Red Feather Racing, Madakat Stables, LLC and William Strauss.

He now has three wins from seven career starts and earnings of $377,550.