Risen Star & Southwest Preview

Decisive Moment To Keep Run-N-Gun Style For Risen Star

Decisive Moment took the slow track from Miami to New Orleans, but his trainer, Juan Arias, plans a speedier journey for the horse and jockey Kerwin Clark in the Risen Star Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

'He's going to go out there and gun him, and if they want to go that way with us, welcome,' said Arias.

That's the front-running style Decisive Moment employed winning the $250,000 Jean Laffitte Stakes on Jan. 14 at Delta, and Arias sees no reason to alter tactics in the Risen Star.

'He's been doing so good that way, so it's hard to try something new,' said Arias. 'There will be a day when he doesn't break so good, and then it will be up to the rider to go to plan B.'

Decisive Moment is one of five Florida-based horses entered to contest the Risen Star, a Grade 2, $350,000 race that drew a field of 10. The other four were booked to fly on Wednesday, but Arias and owner Ruben Sierra, who races as Just for Fun Stable, sent Decisive Moment here by van. He arrived Monday night, walked the shed row Tuesday, and was out for a mild gallop under Arias, a former jockey, on Wednesday morning. Decisive Moment, a long-legged, near-black son of the Florida stallion With Distinction, trained comfortably and seemed to have settled in to his new surroundings.

'He took everything like a pro today,' Arias said.

The surroundings are new for Arias, too, as would be victory in a graded stakes race. Arias, 45 and a native of Panama, has compiled a record of 0-2-1 from 10 graded stakes starters. Decisive Moment is one of the two best horses he has trained in a career dating to 2003. The other was Renda, who finished 10th in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Arias never has started a horse at Fair Grounds, but this is his third trip to Louisiana with Decisive Moment, who finished second in the Delta Jackpot before winning the Jean Lafitte. The horse has never won beyond one mile, has tended to fade late in his races, and is moving from the extremely short stretch at Delta to the unusually long stretch at Fair Grounds. Arias, however, sees a horse who, while speedy, is learning how to race.

'He'll stretch out more now that he's getting more experienced,' said Arias. 'He was hard to rate. He's learning to relax next to the company and pull away now.'

And Decisive Moment figures to have company on Saturday after breaking from post position 3. Pants on Fire, drawn just to his outside, set the pace in the Lecomte Stakes and has been the first-call leader his last four starts. Drawn one stall farther out is Mucho Macho Man, who raced on the lead Jan. 30 in the one-turn-mile Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. Decisive Moment already has $200,000 in graded-stakes earnings thanks to his Delta Jackpot performance, and that alone may be enough to qualify for the Kentucky Derby's 20-horse field.

'You've got a foot in the door having the graded earnings,' Arias said, 'but you still have to go step by step.’

by Marcus Hersh
from drf.com


There were at least nine probables for Monday's Grade 3, $250,000 Southwest at Oaklawn Park as of Wednesday morning, with Yankee Passion confirming his place in the lineup after a bullet five-furlong workout. Entries for the one-mile race for 3-year-olds will be taken on Saturday.

'We possibly could have up to 11,' said Pat Pope, the racing secretary at Oaklawn.

J P's Gusto, the winner of last year's Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity and the lone Oaklawn-based 3-year-old listed in the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, leads the prospective field. Ramon Dominguez has the mount on the horse, who will be making his first start since finishing second in the Grade 1 CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park on Dec. 18.

Yankee Passion worked in company with fellow Southwest nominee Commander on Wednesday, right after the renovation break. He worked along the rail under regular rider Gabriel Saez, sitting just off Commander and jockey Terry Thompson. Yankee Passion finished with good energy through the stretch, hitting the wire about a half-length in front of his company, in 1:01. Clockers caught him galloping out six furlongs in 1:16. Commander, who worked without the blinkers he has worn in his last two starts, went in 1:01.20, which was the second fastest move of 44 at the distance on Wednesday.

Trainer Larry Jones said he was pleased with both horses, with Yankee Passion to go to the Southwest.

'It looked like Commander was going to get the best of the work coming out of the turn, then Yankee Passion started getting in gear,' Jones said. 'He did well. He did it the right way.'

Jones said Commander, who is still maturing mentally, will pass on the race Monday.

'We found some things we wanted to change on him and work on,' he said. 'We'll make more adjustments before he goes again.'

Yankee Passion has won 2 of 3 starts, his latest a first-level allowance sprint at Oaklawn on Jan. 27. He stalked the pace, split horses, and covered six furlongs in a sharp 1:10.80. Yankee Passion, who races for his breeder, Brereton Jones, won his debut in a maiden special weight at Delaware Park in August.

Fires pair set for Southwest

Trainer Jinks Fires said on Wednesday that Archarcharch and Bluegrass Bull are both set to run in the Southwest. Archarcharch, who is to be ridden by Jon Court, finished fourth as the favorite in the $100,000 Smarty Jones at Oaklawn in his last start Jan. 17.

'He came out of the race with a filled-up hock,' said Fires.

Archarcharch has since come back with a strong work at Oaklawn, going six furlongs in a bullet 1:15 on Monday. Prior to the Smarty Jones, he had won the $56,000 Sugar Bowl at Fair Grounds.

Bluegrass Bull, who is to be ridden by Michael Baze, was third in the Smarty Jones.

'He ran a giant race last time out, and we feel good about him going back,' said Fires.

Other probables for the Southwest are Caleb's Posse, the Smarty Jones winner to be ridden by Eddie Razo; Elite Alex, Calvin Borel; Alternation, Luis Quinonez; Grant Jack, Cliff Berry; and Brickyard Fast, Bryan McNeil.

Pope said Oaklawn had slightly more than 100 early-bird nominations for its graded series for 3-year-olds that begins with the Southwest and continues with the Grade 2, $300,000 Rebel on March 19 and the Grade 1, $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 16.

'Anything over 90 is very good,' said Pope.

The Southwest is one of three stakes being run over the holiday weekend at Oaklawn. The action begins Saturday with the $100,000 Bayakoa, a 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares expected to draw Taptam and Be Fair, the respective second and third-place finishers to Zenyatta in last meet's Grade 1 Apple Blossom.

The feature Sunday is the $60,000 Spring Fever, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for fillies and mares that could draw Shotgun Gulch, who shipped from Remington Park to Santa Anita for her last start and ran third in the Grade 1 La Brea.

by Mary Rampellini
from drf.com



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