The Risen Star (Grade II)

2/25/2017 Fairgrounds Race Course-Race 11

The Risen Star-$400,000—Grade II

1 & 1/16th Miles on Dirt for Three-Year-Olds

Post Time: 3:00 P.M. PST

Analysis by Michael Patricks

Each passing February day serves as a reminder that the Triple Crown season is drawing near.   The Grade II Risen Star Stakes will take place on Saturday from Fairgrounds Race Course in New Orleans, Louisiana and awards 50 Derby points to the winner.  The much-hyped Mo Town is the 7/2 morning line favorite in his three-year-old unveiling, his last performance a commanding victory of the Remsen at Aqueduct.  Just one-half point behind him on the morning line is the Steve Asmussen-trainee Local Hero, a half million dollar purchase at this time last year.  Local Hero was a devastating victor over straight maidens in his last start over this surface on January 26th.  Will the marquee names carry the day?  Or, is there perhaps an actor lurking backstage who can emerge into the limelight and steal the show?  To the analysis:

1-Girvin 6/1 ML- Won an absolute street fight with Excitations in his debut who came back to take care of maidens in his follow up effort.  Girvin was freshened off his graduation and faced winners on the Fair Grounds turf course in his last start, saving ground while closing into soft fractions and just narrowly miss.  Jockey Brian Hernandez flees the grinding maiden Arklow to stick with him today for trainer Joe Sharp.  Like many, he figures to be a big player with improvement and his prior race experience under his belt; take a long look at him if the early tote is leaning in his direction.

2-Untrapped 10/1 ML- First of five entered that competed last time out in the muddy Lecomte.  Had an ideal trip on that day but failed to quicken when the question was asked.  It’s possible that the muddy surface may not have been his favorite.  Asmussen brings him right back for more and his stable mate Local Hero will ensure some splits to chase.   Would have liked to have seen more explosiveness from him when he got to daylight last time but it’s also possible he may have just been a bit of a short horse in the mud; could make amends at a succulent price.

3-Local Hero 4/1 ML- Likely torch bearer is about to make acquaintances with Mo Tom up the New Orleans back stretch and we will find out his valor and medal at the 3/8ths pole when the real running begins.  No complaints in how he’s handled his business thus far and he seems to possess the same raw speed that his daddy Hard Spun displayed.  Runner up in his maiden effort came back to win and it’s possible the light bulb has gone off and he’s got it figured out now.  He appears to have a ton of quality and the runner-up from his maiden victory came back to win in his next start at Oaklawn.  Steve Asmussen and Florent Geroux teamed up last year with Gun Runner in the Risen Star, on their way to a sweep of the Louisiana prep races leading to the Kentucky Derby.  This guy is cut out to be a monster and he will take a ton of beating at 3 o’clock on Saturday; the choice.

4-Arklow 15/1 ML- My selection in the Lecomte; as a maiden he ran commendably while arriving on the scene for a belated fourth.  No doubt he belongs with this group and it’s reasonable to expect him to finish in the top half of the placings, but he seems a bit limited in terms of profitable intrigue.  While Bridgmohan and Cox have united quite well at the meet, truth told he doesn’t appear to have a strong enough turn of foot to be the ultimate victor.  He’s been beaten by Takeoff, Guest Suite and Untrapped and it’s difficult to paint a scenario whereby he can turn the tables on them all at once.  Lightning can strike at any time, but he’s best used underneath in your verticals.

5-Shareholder Value 15/1 ML- Bridgmohan defects to Arklow after a mediocrity-filled fifth place finish last time in the Lecomte at 7/1.  While he serves as one of the more experienced runners in the gate, his body of work also suggests that he has a real penchant for finding trouble in his races and that’s something he’s not talented enough to overcome in this spot.  His trainer is terrific and the price will be right for those that will continue to kneel before him in longing adoration. However, simply put, both graded stakes efforts have not gone well.  Amoss put a nice breeze into him on February 11th and he’s worth factoring into exotics calculations.  Yet if I were a shareholder in this stock I’d be selling my shares in this guy before the gates open in order to maximize shareholder value, instead of risking to see what happens after they cross the finish line; if he gets there, expect it will be in a desperate cavalry charge with a blanket over his head and in the cover of darkness.

6-Guest Suite 6/1 ML- No match for McCraken at Churchill but has rebounded nicely since then with back to back scores.  Guest Suite did what he needed to do last time but he stopped the clock in pedestrian fashion and it has me wondering just exactly who was behind him.  Robby Albarado stays and he shows up to this with a couple bullets in the holster from his morning activity.  There seems to be very little romanticism with him so his price should stay genuine and you know that he’s going to try hard based on each and every running line.  If Local Hero cracks on Saturday you can expect this guy to be in line to pick up the pieces; logical contender, but likely plays second fiddle.

7-U S Officer 20/1 ML- Very tough spot for his three-year-old unveiling and has more than three lengths to make up on Cool Arrow drawn next door, who will be left on many handicapper’s cutting room floor.  Gets a new pilot and tries this surface for the first time.  His top Beyer is a 71 and that’s not enough to even get an extra mention from track announcer John Dooley once they hit the far turn.  Homebred will need to improve leaps and bounds to make an impression on Saturday and the 20/1 morning line on him is pure fiction; moving on.

8-Cool Arrow 15/1 ML- Has shown nice speed in his prior races and he was a wire to wire winner from the outside post at Remington Park last time in the Springboard Mile.  The water certainly gets a whole lot deeper today and with Mo Town and Takeoff drawn right alongside, he doesn’t figure to get much of a breather at any point up the backside.  Some may wonder if he’s a bit of a rabbit for Girvin since Joe Sharp sends out both horses and if this guys’ job is to soften up Local Hero and Mo Town if nothing else.  Tough to see him sticking it out when push comes to shove and I’ll be quite surprised if he’s not the first to bid a hasty retreat while checking out of the battle on the front end;  can’t endorse this one.

9 Mo Town 7/2 ML- Narrow morning line favorite was a nice winner of the Remsen at Aqueduct back in November and has been freshened up for his three-year-old debut on Saturday.  Mo Town comes from a very solid outfit and his regular rider John Velazquez heads to New Orleans to take the call.  He appears to be a bit of a question in mark in terms of readiness while coming off the layoff and he could possibly need a start before being fully cranked.  That would be easier to accept around 12 to 1 instead of 7 to 2 odds, and the tote board will likely provide more clues as to this chances.  Further lessening his appeal is that Remsen runner-up No Dozing came back to sleepwalk through his Tampa Bay Derby effort and Remsen third place finisher Takaful came back to be eased behind El Areeb in the Grade III Jerome at Aqueduct.  He must avoid over racing off the layoff and work out a perfect trip if he’s to emerge with the hat trick on Saturday; will make him prove it at the short number.

10-Takeoff 10/1 ML- $550,000 purchase ran pretty well last time in the Lecomte before ultimately surrendering to Guest Suite and Untrapped while saving the show dough by the narrowest of margins.  Mark Casse and Julien Leparoux will keep the price on this one from drifting too high and like many coming out of the Lecomte it is possible that mud wasn’t their preferred surface and better can be expected on Saturday.  Immediately cooling my jets is the immutable reality that Florent Geroux opts for Local Hero and that this guy hasn’t been able to reach an 80 Beyer speed figure, which he will certainly have to do (and then some) to factor into the outcome in the Risen Star.  At least you know he will be in the race early and should have every chance at making an impression, but he’s just not sexy enough in my opinion to get me hot and bothered about his chances at the odds; not landing on Takeoff.

11-Sorry Erik 30/1 ML- Was haltered for a meager $20,000 tag back in January at Santa Anita and now two races later is being entered into a Grade II.  He was 6 to 1 in a five horse field last time and that victory obviously came as a bit of a surprise. so you can’t fault the connections for reaching for the stars here in the Risen Star.  Kent Desormeaux figures he will roll the dice and see what happens for his brother Keith and Sorry Erik’s connections are obviously playing with house money, which is always dangerous.  Whether he can ship and run his race remains to be seen, but if he’s figured it out and continues to step forward then who knows?  Seeks to be poster boy for the claiming game.

12 Horse Fly 30/1 ML- Sixth try was the proverbial charm for him as he was all out when just getting the nostril down on One Dreamy Dude at Oaklawn Park.  One Dreamy Dude came back to run last week against maidens at Oaklawn and stopped terribly in the stretch while getting out badly, fading to a fourth place finish.  Staring in the face of incontrovertible evidence leads a reasonable person to conclude that this guy is going to get pummeled.  Get ready for 99 to 1.

13-It’s Your Nickel 30/1 ML- Got handed the victory in an allowance race a month back after  the stewards disqualified Senior Investment and moved him up.  He’s admittedly a bit of a wild card type who will likely get overlooked and it’s very difficult to say just how much talent is under his hood.  Strange things can happen in horse racing on any given occasion and it wouldn’t be stunning to see this guy hit the board at any old odds.  He’s run well on turf and dirt–is lightly raced–and appears to be improving  The post position is no bargain but I wouldn’t talk you off an across the board bet at such a healthy price; the big unknown.

14- So Conflated 10/1 ML- Won the California Derby on synthetic at Golden Gate Fields in his last start, defeating a couple blue collar types in his division when getting up just in time on tapeta.  He’s run well in each start but let’s be honest that the post position he drew in this spot is quite deflating.  His career appears to be on the uptick and better days are likely ahead of him, but he will need to be Superman and then some if he’s going to be the last one standing in New Orleans on Saturday.  Will need everything to break just right from this imposition of this outpost; caveat emptor.

Selections: 3-6-1-2