45th running of the $400,000 Grade 2 – Risen Star Stakes will be contested this Saturday at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana. It will be the three year-old debut for Grade 2 – Remsen Stakes winner Mo Town who dazzled in a couple starts this past Fall in New York, but shipped South for Kentucky Derby prep season. The bay colt by Uncle Mo out of Grazie Mille (Bernardini) will look to improve off what many pundits have claimed was a very weak Remsen victory and has produced no subsequent winners in their next starts.
Guest Suite, a three year-old bay gelding by Quality Road out of Guest House (Ghostzapper) looks to follow up a solid winning performance in the Grade 3 – Le Comte, which occurred on a day when the muddy track was playing into his favor. Even so, Guest Suite is a well bred, strong looking animal who is looking to improve off the mediocre 82 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in his past start.
Here is a breakdown of the remaining entrants:
#1 Girvin (B.Hernandez Jr/Joe Sharp)
Broke his maiden in December at the Fair Grounds and dueled throughout for a game victory earning an 87 Speed Figure. He backed up his second place finish in the KGee with a solid work on the 17th of February. He looks to be in good shape. Add in his very nice Beyer numbers and he deserves a look, but remember that last start was on the turf so it could be a bit deceiving. He drew the rail in his past start too, and I am curious how far the rail was out and if that played into a good trip. When I look back at the pedigree on the horse, and I am no expert on line breeding by any means, he traces back to the horse ISINGLASS(GB) and he gets both a male and female gene from a horse that won 11 of 12 in Great Britain. He probably is a turf horse, but it’s interesting anyways.
#2 – Untrapped (R.Santana Jr/Steve Asmussen)
The runner up in the Le Comte at odds of 5-1 waited patiently for room off the far turn, but failed to make up ground on GUEST SUITE. He tried hard and gave a good effort on a muddy track. If you go back to his debut he ran second to UNCONTESTED, a horse many had on their Derby list until his latest start in the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs in which he faltered an ran 6th. He broke his maiden in his second start beating ADULATION whom I liked a little bit at Saratoga when he was coming into form as a young two year old, but he hasn’t panned out to date and is still a maiden. He is sired by TRAPPE SHOT son of TAPIT and out of EXIT THREE daughter of GIANT’S CAUSEWAY. He is bred to be a winner and will need to improve off that last effort in the slop. I am going to watch in this one and let’s see if he improves.
#3 – Local Hero (F.Geroux/S.Asmussen)
Asmussen’s second entry had a couple unsuccessful starts as a two year old. Came back in late January and broke the maiden in stylish fashion routing at the Fair Grounds winning by more than seven lengths and being eased coming to the wire. It was definitely an eye opening performance for the son of Hard Spun. He traces back to DANZIG on both sides and is bred extremely well and that’s why he went for $500,000 at the Fasig Tipton sale last March. He could be the one to beat in this group.
#4 – Arklow (S.Bridgmohan/B.Cox – 27% 96 St $1.72)
We saw this one in the Le Comte as well. He went off at odds of 6-1 and sat well off the pace on the rail on a muddy track. I am not sure why exactly they decided on those tactics, but they weren’t that far off from a victory. He came closing with a rush to miss by 13/4 but the gallop out wasn’t great and even had the race been longer, I think GUEST SUITE still outruns ARKLOW. It will be interesting though to see if Bridgmohan can get this horse a little closer to the pace. If the horse can get the lead say a furlong out, at that point he could be tough, he looks like a fighter, but I don’t see it in the Risen Star. He could get a minor prize, the major problem is that he has never shown speed, and is still a MAIDEN???
#5 – SHAREHOLDER VALUE (M.Murrill/Tom Amoss)
This colt by Uncle Mo is very intriguing in my eyes. He has a lot of experience. His pace numbers and Beyer numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but if you were to watch the gallop out in his most recent start, the Le Comte. He was the only colt to put a nose to GUEST SUITE and more ground might be the key to keep this one going. Bridgmohan is off, Murrill is up which I think is a good thing. He has faced some of the best on the Derby trail and will be a price. Sired by Uncle Mo and out of the unraced Rylee’s Song brought nearly $200k at the Keeneland sale and when I look at the pedigree, I see a lot of names worth noting – Unbridled, Dr. Fager, Fappiano, Caro, and more… Anyways, I like the odds, the speed figures are not the best, but the horse is improving. He is worth being in the exotic plays on your tickets and maybe a WPS bet.
#6 GUEST SUITE (R.Albarado/Neil Howard – 11% 55 starts, $1.45)
GUEST SUITE has hit the board in every start and he is the trier of triers. He raced his asswoff in the Le Comte to win on the muddy track while being caught wide on both turns and losing ground. It was very impressive and he is sired by Quality Road and out of Guest House daughter of Ghostzapper. His breeding points to this horse being more of a miler, but he did very well at a 1m70. He is throwing up bullets all over his work tab. Howard has him working his but off so he must just be full of energy if they are letting him run that often. At a morning line of 6-1, which is a little high in my opinion, I have him as the one to beat.
#7 – U.S. OFFICER (J.Valdivia Jr/Danny Pish – 17% 30 starts $5.97)
Ol’ Danny Pish and Jose Valdivia put up some impressive ROI figures together, but Danny is 0 for 6 in Graded Stakes and brings in a horse that put up a 70 Beyer in debut and then dropped off into the 40’s for the next three starts. He was crushed by CLASSIC EMPIRE in the Bashford Manor. But when he shipped to Remington Park in September things turned around for this one. He is still owned by his breeder Jerry Durant. He has won 3 of 4 starts with Daniel Cabrera up and in all his other starts, he seems to piss it away. He is a dead closer so if the track is favoring off the pace types, this one is worth taking a look at. He won the Clever Trevor Stakes at odds of 15-1 and would shock the world if pulled off this start. Until track conditions come out, this one is an exotic play only.
#8 Cool Arrow (G.Saez/J.Sharp – 26% 42 starts)
He was entered in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, but scratched and opted for this spot at The Fair Grounds. It’s a little interesting that they chose this spot, it’s not all that surprising considering the tough group that battled it out in Hot Springs.
Tried maiden special weight company in first two starts as a two year-old, failed in both running evenly at Churchill. Dropped down to maiden claiming company in third start at Laurel Park and crushed as the 2/5 favorite. Came back as the favorite in the Kip Deville Stakes at Remington Park after taking a couple months off. Went off at 9-5 and proved why he was the favorite again, he drew off under confident handling by Joel Rosario. Followed that start with a return to Churchill Downs in the Spendthrift Stallion Stakes, went off at 3-1 in first try at seven furlongs. Tracked in second throughout but drifted out into the 6path and could not gain on the eventual winner. Came back in the Springboard Mile, first try at two turns, and won for fun with Luis Saez in the irons. This one must be considered and will likely be part of the pace scenario. Need to take a good look at this one on the track. He could be ready to take a step forward, if that doesn’t happen, it will likely be the end of the derby trail for this contender. I tend to think this is one of Joe Sharp’s good ones and he will be in the mix at the end of this one.
#9 Mo Town (J.Velazquez/Anthony Dutrow – 40% $2.74)
The morning-line favorite and winner of the Remsen up at Aqueduct has been very impressive in pretty much every start. He had a little trouble in his debut and couldn’t pass the winner RECKLING. Mo Town has posted three straight bullets at Payson Park in Florida. Many people think the Remsen was unimpressive and a rather slow event, especially after NO DOZING dozed off and ran a sluggish sixth in the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. He is going to try and sit just off the pace, I see him getting caught wide on the first turn and more than likely wide on the second turn which will be a tough trip to get a victory.
If the track is wet, things change a bit. I think Mo Town would take extremely well to a wet track and the pace scenario would likely be different.
#10 – TAKEOFF (J.Leparoux/M.Casse – 23% 209 Starts $1.63 ROI)
After breaking his maiden and defeating Arklow going gate to wire and earning a Beyer of 79, he followed it up with an interesting wide trip in the LeComte. He ran evenly paced the entire way, pretty much running the exact same trip he ran in his maiden victory. He would need to change tactics and try to make the lead or sit off the pace and make one sustained run. It will be up to Mark Casse on how he would want to do that, but this $550,000 purchase owned by John Oxley is well intended, I just think he is a late developer. He will improve – how much will he improve???
#11 – SORRY ERIK (Kent Desormeaux/Keith Desormeaux – 18% $1.87 ROI)
This colt by Wilburn out of Tiz the Day is well experienced and ships in from the West Coast to take a shot in the Bayou with confident rider Kent Desormeaux up. He has continued to improve from race to race, but this is a big jump in class.
He broke his maiden in his first start for a tag at the 40k level. He followed that up in the Zuma Beach Stakes that Big Score won rather easily. He then raced in a couple AOC races and ran a disappointing fourth in both of them. And then possible the greatest thing could have happened, he was claimed for 20k from Doug O’Neil and Reddam Racing in a race he won by five lengths.
In his first start for Desormeaux, they won a first level allowance/claiming race for $75k at odds of 6-1 posting a Beyer of 72. His pace numbers are going to have to improve to get into the mix with this group. It’s possible he will get the dream trip on the outside of the speed sitting a looming second or third moving for home, but he is going to have to find more and his best start. This is an ambitious spot for this horse, but we’ll find of how talented he really is and whether or not this was a good claim or a fantastic claim.
#12 – HORSE FLY (M.Mena/D.W.Lukas – 33% 3 starts $4.53)
NAME THIS HORSE with D.W.LUKAS RACING FANS….
HORSE FLY ships in from Oaklawn Park after breaking the maiden in early February. It took six starts to find the winners circle. The speed and pace figures just don’t match up to compete with this group and it’s interesting that Lukas chose this spot.
The sire Mineshaft son of A.P. Indy is bred to run well at this distance and the horse has shown he can win routing since he started. He has some turf experience in his background and that can benefit a horse, having the experience running in traffic. There are many horses in this field and if he can find clear day light, he could be part of the outcome. It’s very unlikely but possible.
#13 – IT’S YOUR NICKEL (J.Graham/K.McPeek – 9% 11 starts $1.24)
This dark bay colt won his last start because of a disqualification for bumping in the stretch at the Fair Grounds in an allowance ran back in January. Before that, he broke his maiden at odds of 30-1 in a very talented two year old group at Saratoga.
His pace and speed figures have not been extremely fast, but this $100k purchase has room for improvement, but I have a feeling if this race doesn’t work out. They will start to push towards the three year old turf stakes races where there is plenty of money to made.
I am going to watch this one today, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s part of the exotics.
#14 – SO CONFLATED (M.Gutierrez/Doug O’neil – 14% 264 starts $1.63 ROI)
Another California shipper comes in off a victory in the $100k California Derby in which he tracked the pace and put up a nice figure off of the second place finish in his second start. He won the stakes as a maiden, but almost went off as the favorite, so they thought highly enough of him then. Reddam Racing wouldn’t ship him into New Orleans if they didn’t think they could earn Derby points. Getting caught outside in the 14 post is extremely tough and to overcome the extra ground that this one is going to have to improve greatly off the last effort. I love the recent work at Santa Anita and I think this one could be good enough to get the top prize with enough improvement. The sire Eskendereya is underrated and I am hoping I can get more than 10-1 on this horse.
MY PICKS IN ORDER:
Tier 1 – #3 Local Hero, #6 Guest Suite, and #14 So Conflated
Tier 2 – #5 Shareholder Value, #1 Girvin, #10 – Takeoff, #9 Mo Town, #11 Sorry Erik
$2 EXB 3,6,14 = $12
$1 EX 3,6,14 with 1,3,5,6,9,10,11,14 = $21
Depending on the odds – $10 WP on 3,6 or 14 but I am leaning to the 6
Depending on how my day is going…
$0.10 Super: 3,6,14 with 3,6,14 with 1,3,5,6,9,10,11,14 with 1,3,5,6,9,10,11,14 = $18
$0.10 Super: 3,6,14 with 1,3,5,6,9,10,11,14 with 3,6,14 with 1,3,5,6,9,10,11,14 = $18