Eleven Rising Stars In The Risen Star
ELEVEN LOOK TO BE RISEN STARS IN SATURDAY'S GRADE II FAIR GROUNDS PREP
Sharp Pletcher Contender El Padrino Faces Off Against Mr. Bowling And Five Other Lecomte Graduates
Wednesday, February 22
The second of three Kentucky Derby Preps to be contested at the Fair Grounds will be run this Saturday as 11 three-year olds, including a pair of entries has signed on to do battle in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes, a mile and a sixteenth test that will go off as race 11 in a star-studded lineup of stakes races.
Part of what is billed as the Louisiana Derby Preview program, the Risen Star follows the Grade III Lecomte that was run on January 21 and is the final prep for the Grade I Louisiana Derby, to be run here on April 1st.
El Padrino, a dominant last out allowance winner will look to make his case as a top headliner on the stacked Todd Pletcher Derby Prep road show and will face off against the top three finishers in the Lecomte, Mr. Bowling, Dager and Shared Property, who are among the six Lecomte graduates returning for this.
The Risen Star is one of two major prep races that will be contested this weekend. Following this Saturday feature, Gulfstream Park will be the center of attention on Sunday as Grade I Champagne winner Union Rags and recent Holy Bull winner will face each other and undefeated rising star Discreet Dancer in the Grade II Fountain Of Youth, which will be run at a mile and a sixteenth.
On Friday morning I'll post my preview of the Fountain Of Youth Stakes as I plan on releasing that race and Saturday's Risen Star as part of my winning DERBY PREP PACKAGE...
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Right now, from the rail out, let's take a look at the eleven three-year olds entered in Saturday's Risen Star.
AFFORD - The son of Street Sense, the Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, who is the sire of Castaway, who won Monday's first division of the Southwest Stakes, earned a shot at finding out if he belongs in the upper stratosphere of Derby contenders with a convincing 3-year old debut on February 9. A maiden winner in his second career start when sprinting at Hawthorne last November the colt sprinted against winners in the Sugar Bowl Stakes here this past December. In his first two turn try last time out he rated well while 4-5 wide on the first turn and 6 wide into the lane as he ran down entry level allowance foes. The Gregory Ceier trainee would not be a complete surprise.
OPTIMIZER - The Wayne Lukas trained colt ran an even and unthreatening sixth in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn in his last. Looking back, his final 2-year old effort, a 4 wide rallying fourth in the Grade II Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs was decent enough to hope for better, and in fact, other than his sluggish start eighth in the BC Juvenile, the son of English Channel has been relatively productive. He was a winner in his two turn MSW debut, finished second in the Grade III With Anticipation at Saratoga and a close up third in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. The Smarty Jones had to be a disappointment, but the colt has worked well since and a return to his 2-year old form puts him place to grab a share of this.
MR. BOWLING - Now 3 for 5 lifetime after winning the Grade III Lecomte Stakes here on January 21, the Larry Jones trained colt appears to have held form with a series of gallops and a couple of sharp breezes to clear his lungs. The son of Istan showed a lot of heart and resiliency in winning the Lecomte, especially since it was his first start since October 30 when he finished third following an erratic early trip in the Grade III Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs. Jones is winning at a 27% clip at the meet and Robbie Albarado, who got the assignment for the first time on January 21 and is back aboard, is having a solid meet. If the colt moves forward at all off his needed return race he'll be tough again.
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SATURDAY 2/25 (RISEN START STAKES) & SUNDAY 2/26 (FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH)
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Z DAGER - The lightly raced son of Mizzen mast made only the third start of his career and first against winners when trainer Steve Asmussen sent him post-ward in the Lecomte straight of a MSW win in his prior. The colt traveled willingly while in hand along the inside most of the way and once he got room rallied smartly to miss the whole thing by a head. He has worked solidly since with a trio of five furlong breezes and if he continues to progress could be good enough to take it all.
TED'S FOLLY - The good news is the Oklahoma bred knows how to finish first, visiting the winner's circle six times from nine lifetime starts. The not so good news is his first try away from Prairie Meadows and Remington Park resulted in a well-beaten ninth of thirteen in the Lecomte. Trainer Wilson Brown apparently wasn't so discouraged as to not give the gelded son of Wild Tale another try vs this group. But he has a lot to prove even given the fact that he has worked four times since the latest failure.
ADENA'S CHANCE - Does he have one? While an argument can be made that too many young horses race to seldom to be ready to endure long distance running in the spring, an argument can also be made that the other extreme...over racing...is just as much an issue. This guy exemplifies the latter. Part of a two horse entry from trainer Cennadi Dorochenko, the son of Limehouse will be making his fifteenth start in the Risen Star and if the conditioner could understand "horse talk" he might hear, "No Mas." The colt has but two wins on his resume, finished tenth, beaten 15 lengths in the Lecomte at 51-1 as part of the same entry the trainer will supposedly send forth on Saturday and has even raced again since the Lecomte failure, checking in second in a minor entry level allowance/optional claimer 2 weeks ago. Why?
HERO OF ORDER - The other half of the Dorochenko entry, he didn't run all that badly in the Lecomte, finishing fifth of thirteen. He took a short lead, working hard to attain it from the 10 post and faltered definitively in the latter stages. The idea of him stepping forward off that race, especially since he is still eligible for NW2L after 11 career races is difficult to form, especially since he couldn't even beat his entry mate when he checked in third behind that one two weeks ago when both ran in the aforementioned allowance/optional claiming sprint.
EL PADRINO - The Todd Pletcher trained colt begins his campaign to move up a peg in the conditioner's star-studded Derby contender hierarchy. The son of Pulpit broke his maiden in his second career start and then finished a sharp rallying third in the 9 furlong Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Thanksgiving weekend. Given a nine week freshening, the colt dominated entry level allowance foes in his return as a 3-year old. He was caught between rivals on the far turn in the mile and a sixteenth Gulfstream test yet easily drew clear once he shook loose, garnering an impressive 111 BRIS Speed Number in the process. Javier Castellano, who has become one of Pletcher's go-to guys rode the colt that day and will be back aboard. The likely post time favorite has breezed a half mile in hand three times since his last and could take another step forward.
MARK VALESKY - Part of the Larry Jones trained entry, along with Mr. Bowling, the son of Proud Citizen will be making his first two turn start in this, the fourth race of his career. He broke his maiden in his second try traveling 6 furlongs at Delaware Pak on September 27 and returned to racing here on January 13 to capture an entry level allowance victory in another 6 furlong sprint. Given another short break he has worked three times since, including a five furlong breeze in 1:00 4/5 on February 6 and a best of ten 6 furlong breeze in 1:12 3/5 on February 13. Jones will find out if he can carry his speed around two turns and he should at least contribute to a sharp pace. The downside to this entry is that this is the kind of Jones horse you could find a reason to like and were he running uncoupled you would get a much higher price.
SHARED PROPERTY - Trainer Tom Amoss has to expect further improvement from the gelding as he makes his second 3-year old start. The son of Scat Daddy, who is the sire of last week's El Camino Real winner Daddy Nose Best and Southwest Stakes second division runner up Scat Man was caught 3-4 wide on both turns when he made his 2012 debut in the Lecomte and while 6 wide through the lane closed sharply to finish third, beaten a half length for it all in the blanker finish. Amoss has kept him busy in the morning with 4 sharp drills since the Lecomte and there is no reason to doubt he can move forward. He won his first two career starts, including the Grade III Arlington Washington Futurity at Arlington Park and didn't tarnish his image when he made a belated rally as the 5-2 favorite in the Grade I Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in his final juvenile test. Might be sharp enough to make a major statement.
TIZANEXPENSE - Any time Michael maker deems a horse worthy of moving into Stakes Company the antenna should go up. Nonetheless, this is deep water time for this Tiznow colt that broke his maiden in career start number three, winning a mile and seventy yard test over the Fair Grounds surface on December 23. He also made his 3-year old debut a winning one as he tracked the pace and got up late going the same distance vs entry level allowance/optional claimers. He is well bred to get the distance and has worked well, turning in a five furlong breeze that was the best of thirty seven in 1:00 flat on Sunday, but will have to improve on the 85 and 88 BRIS Speed Numbers he ran in winning the last two.
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