The Morning Line: Risen Star Stakes

El Padrino Ships In, Fair Grounds Contenders Await

El Padrino

Welcome back to the Fair Grounds for the Risen Star Stakes, the final tune up and prep for the Louisiana Derby on April 1. The race has drawn a solid field of 11 horses that will be contending for a piece of the Grade 2 $300,000 purse and another giant step towards qualifying for the Kentucky Derby. The 1 1/16 mile test is headlined by El Padrino versus the top finishers in the G3 LeComte Stakes here at the Fairgrounds on 1/21. In order of finish they were: Mr. Bowling, Z Dager, and Shared Property.

So let’s start right there where a trainer not named Bob Baffert is off to a hot start on the Kentucky Derby Trail. El Padrino, trained by Todd Pletcher, was shipped in from Florida and looks ready to continue where he left off in January – the winners circle at Gulfstream. That race, an Allowance Optional Claiming, was El Padrino’s 2012 debut after a lightly raced yet successful two-year old season. A couple of different factors about the horse and the win has given him even more Kentucky Derby Contender attention so let’s analyze them. 

First let’s look at who he beat. One horse that jumps out at you is Take Charge Indy, a graded stakes tested colt that is also considered a potential Kentucky Derby entry. With Calvin Borel aboard Take Charge Indy began to yield after leading in the stretch before being caught by El Padrino and beat by 2 lengths. While beating Take Charge Indy in the stretch was a nice feather in his cap another feather was much bigger and brighter. Raced at 1 1/16 mile over a track listed as Good, El Padrino fired an outstanding beyer figure that no other horse in Risen Star can claim: 100.

Finally the Todd Pletcher factor also adds to his Kentucky Derby Contender status. The legendary trainer is off to great start in 2012 by scoring two victories already with Algorithms in the G3 Holy Bull and Thunder Moccasin in the G2 Hutcheson. Outside of the derby prep success Pletcher has had a few very impressive days at Gulfstream this year including the day he scored his 3,000th career win. Overall, even with Bob Baffert making a move, Pletcher is considered to have the deepest and best stable of 3-yr-olds in the country right now.

So that’s where El Pradino gets attention. To support it, his most recent Kentucky Derby Future Line and Odds has him settled in comfortably at 16-1. Not bad for a horse that has yet to win a graded stakes but the talent is there.

Career Results:                                           Recent Workouts – Palm Meadows – Dirt               GP            1/29        ALW OC          1st       2/19        4F           48.91                                                   AQU        11/26      G2 Remsen     3rd      2/13        4F            48.28                                                 BEL        10/29      MSW                1st                                                                                                        SAR         8/20      MSW                2nd                        

Let’s move away from the prized colt that has yet to race at the Fairgrounds and look at few that have. First up is Mr. Bowling, trained by Mr. Larry Jones and winner of the G3 LeComte Stakes. The reason he may still be a long shot for the Kentucky Derby at odds of 75-1 on the Kentucky Derby Futures is because his last win drew a little bit of concern for some.  Mainly it is because of the low beyer he was given in the race: 82. Besides the beyer speed rating there was also questions surrounding the talent that raced in the LeComte.

But that’s horse racing and what better chance is there than The Risen Star to prove your keep. Robby Albarado is scheduled to return to the irons in attempt to send Mr. Bowling to the winners circle back to back for the 2nd time. The biggest advantage Mr. Bowling has over the favorite is that the Fair Grounds is where he has been based since a little bit before the LeComte Stakes and since.

Career Results:                                               Recent Works – Fair Grounds – Dirt                      FG            1/21          G3 LeComte    1st         2/20       Dirt          5F           59.80                    CD           10/30       G3 Iroquois    3rd        2/13        Dirt         5F           1:01.20               DEL         10/08      Dover              1st                                                                                        DEL         8/22         MSW               1st                                                                                    DEL         8/01         MSW               4th                        

Racing 2nd in the LeComte was Z Dager, Trained by Steve Asmussen. Believe or not this colt enters more lightly raced than the El Pradino so we’re still waiting to see more before we can determine his status along the trail. After finishing 6th in first career MSW at Churchill Downs in late October, Steve moved him down to the Fair Grounds next where he won for the first time in only his 2nd career start last Dec.  Having raced only twice didn’t matter much as Asmussen’s instincts paid off when he sent him out against graded stakes company for his 3-yr-old debut.

It says a lot when a trainer makes a bold step towards testing his colt against graded stakes competition without the experience of racing against class. Z Dager finishing 2nd may mean that Asmussen has high hopes for this colt. Owned by Zayat Stables, the Risen Star will be his 4th career race. Jockey Shane Sellers will be on top for the 3rd time after riding last time out.

Shared Property rounds out the top three in the LeComte. The Risen Star is where he will be looking to showcase the form that many believe he may have. Prior to the LeComte were two graded stakes races that ended with two very different outcomes. First was the better of the two, 1st place in the Arlington-Washington where he beat Take Charge Indy. The big score was followed by a disappointing 6th in the Dixiana Futurity. Prior to the graded stakes he had only run in a single MSW, a race he won at Ellis Park in Henderson, KY.

So what we have here is 3 viable contenders that have been based at the Fair Grounds since finishing in the money their last time out in the LeComte Stakes. What they are going up against in a visiting El Pradino is a very big test that will take a lot to beat. Although the odds are against them it can still be done. As for the remainder of the field there is still the element of surprise that could make an appearance.

Best bet for live long shots: Optimizer, trained by D. Wayne Lukas and Tizanexpense trained by Mike Maker. Another thing to keep an eye on is the pair of dual entries. The more notable is the Larry Jones tag team which features Mark Valeski alongside of Mr. Bowling. The other pair, 2 and 2B, could be a surprise long shot that I don’t have on my radar but could make me wish that I did.  Without further ado here is your field.

G2 Risen Star Stakes | Purse $300,000 | 1 1/16 Mile | Dirt | Race 11, Post 4:55

# PP HORSE JOCKEY TRAINER ODDS
1 3 Mr. Bowling  R. Albarado  J. Jones 4-1
1A 9 Mark Valeski  R. Napravnik  J. Jones 4-1
2 6 Adena’s Chance  R. Eramia  G. Dorochenko 30-1
2B 7 Hero of Order  J. Graham  G. Dorochenko 30-1
3 1 Afford  S. Bridgmohan  G. Geier 8-1
4 2 Optimizer  C. Marquez D. Lukas 6-1
5 4 Z Dager  S. Sellers  S. Asmussen 5-1
6 5 Ted’s Folly  R Zimmerman  W. Brown 20-1
7 8 El Padrino  J. Castellano  T. Pletcher 2-1
8 10 Shared Property  L. Goncalves  T. Amoss 6-1
9 11 Tizanexpense  M. Mena  M. Maker 10-1

Risen Star Stakes and the Kentucky Derby

To date there has not yet been a winner of the Risen Star that has gone to win the Kentucky Derby. In 2002 however, War Emblem ran well out of the money – 6th – before regrouping in the Illinois Derby and going on to win the Kentucky Derby. Inaugurated in 1973 as the Louisiana Derby Trial the race has since be re-named in honor of the 1988 champion, Risen Star, who went on to become the 3-yr-old champion of the year. The race was recently upgraded to a Grade 2 from a Grade 3 which means that the increase in purse money is likely to attract more Kentucky Derby Contenders and bring a more competitive draw to the Louisiana Derby as well.

Past 4 Champs and Trainers

  • 2011        Mucho Macho Man               Katherin Ritvo
  • 2010        Discreetly Mine                     Todd Pletcher
  • 2009       Friesan Fire                            Larry Jones
  • 2008       Pyro                                         Steve Asmussen

Good luck to all entries and their connections, we hope to see you return to the 2012 Kentucky Derby trail.

Written by: Little Brink

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