The stakes for Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls rise starting on Saturday as the first 50-point prep race, the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds is on tap.
A field of 14 was entered with 13 likely to start. The connections of So Conflated are going to scratch after drawing the outside 14 post to await the Gotham Stakes (G2) at Aqueduct on March 4.
The race is worth 50-20-10-5 points as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series of races.
The Tony Dutrow trained Mo Town is the 7-2 morning line favorite. The colt makes his three-year-old debut and his first outing since winning the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct on November 26 in his first start against winners.
The colt is currently listed at betting odds of +580 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at US Racing.
Trainer Steve Asmussen, who saddled last year’s winner Gun Runner sends out a pair of runners this year. Local Hero (4-1) is coming off a good looking maiden win and Untrapped (10-1) was second in the LeComte (G3) in his last outing.
The top five finishers from the LeComte return including the winner Guest Suite (6-1) for trainer Neil Howard. Two of the last four winners of the Risen Star exited the LeComte—International Star in 2015 and Ive Struck a Nerve in 2013.
The Risen Star is the feature on an outstanding 12-race card that features six stakes.
The $200,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) serves as an early prep for the Kentucky Oaks (G1). A field of seven three-year-old fillies line up, led by Valadorna (2-1) who was the runner up in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1).
Her main foe figures to be Farrell (5-2), who was a sharp winner of the Silverbulletday in the mud over the main track at Fair Grounds, her third win in five career starts.
Let’s head out to Fair Grounds for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Fair Grounds Race 11 The Risen Star (G2) Post time 5:00 CT
6 Guest Suite 6-1
3 Local Hero 4-1
9 Mo Town 7-2
2 Untrapped 10-1
Guest Suite won the LeComte (G3) last out in his local debut in his three-year-old debut the gelding tracked the early pace, came with a five-wide rally to take over the lead and held on to win by 1 ¼ lengths as the 5-2 favorite. He earned a career top speed fig in the effort and figures to move forward off that effort.
He has won three of his last four starts, the lone loss a third in the Street Sense where he ran into McCraken, who won the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in his last start and is now a leading Derby contender. He has worked smartly since his last win and looks capable of beating this group again which include four foes he has already beaten.
Local Hero was bumped coming out of the gate last out, jumped out to the lead and never looked back, rolling to a good-looking gate to wire score, geared down to win by 7 ¼ lengths to break his maiden. He faces winners here for the first time for the Asmussen barn that has won this race twice including last year with Gun Runner.
This colt still looks as if he has some upside. He was a $500,000 purchase, out of the stakes winner Liam’s Dream ($194,760). He owns solid early and mid pace numbers and there is not a ton of true speed in here while several runners that like to be close to the pace. He should get a good trip.
Mo Town makes his first start since winning the Remsen (G2) last November at Aqueduct going nine furlongs in his first start against winners. The runner up third and fourth place finishers all failed to crack the top three in their next starts so not sure he really beat much.
His maiden score came two back in the mud going one turn at Belmont Park where he drew off to win by seven lengths. The $200,000 Keeneland purchase is by Uncle Mo and the first foal to race out of a Bernardini mare. Three bullet drills in a row at Payson. He could be the real deal but his price may end up on the short side in this spot.
WIN: Guest Suite to win at 4-1 or better.
EXACTA: 3,6 / 2,3,6,9
TRIFECTA: 3,6 / 2,3,6,9 / 1,2,3,6,9
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