Road to Derby: Dozen Go in Risen Star at Fair Grounds

A field of 12 line up in the $200,000 LeComte at Fair Grounds.

A field of 12 line up in the $200,000 LeComte at Fair Grounds.

Lecomte (G3) winner Mo Tom leads a field of 12 that are looking to earn their way into the Run for the Roses in Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.

Thirteen were entered in the race but the Joe Sharp trained Dolphus will scratch, leaving a dozen to go for the 50-20-10-5 Road to the Kentucky Derby points. The race is the first of the season with 50 points to the winner, virtually assuring the victor a ticket into the starting gate on the first Saturday of May.

The 5-2 morning line favorite is Airoforce, who will be making his first start on a fast conventional dirt surface.  His first three starts came on turf including a neck loss in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). He won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) over a sloppy surface at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28 in his last outing.

Julian Leparoux will ride the son of Colonel John, who is trained by Mark Casse. Airoforce is currently listed at +1500 in early Kentucky Derby betting at

Mo Tom won the local prep for this race, taking the Lecomte on Jan. 16. Two of the last winners of the Risen Star exited the Lecomte. Trainer Tom Amoss will give a leg up to Corey Lanerie and will break from the two post.

The colt is a generous +7500 in future Derby betting at

The Risen Star serves as a prep for the marquee race of the meeting at Fair Grounds, the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 26.

My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Fair Grounds and Gulfstream Park.

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Let’s head out to Fair Grounds for Saturday’s featured race of the day:

fair grounds

Fair Grounds Race 11 The Risen Star (G2) Post time 5:21 CT

2 Mo Tom   3-1

5 Forevamo   12-1

10 Airoforce   5-2

6 Gun Runner   6-1

Mo Tom hit the gate at the break, bumped a foe heading into the first turn in the Lecomte (G3). He got a good trip toward the inside, angled out for the stretch drive and drew away to win by 2 ¼ lengths in his three-year-old debut. The fourth place finisher Destin came back to win the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in his next outing on Feb. 13.

The colt won the Street Sense last November at Churchill Downs in his stakes debut and then ran well in a third place finish in the slop in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Airoforce.  It looks as if there is going to be a solid early pace and this guy should be rolling late. This guy is a half to a couple of stakes winners, top earner Beautician ($636,475).

Forevamo looks like good value if he goes off near his 12-1 morning line. The Al Stall trainee won the jean Laffite at Delta Downs in the slop but was not a threat in the Delta Jackpot (G3) in the mud. His three-year-old debut was a decent second against Alw-1 optional claimers which should have him tight and ready to go here.

He did not get much pace to run at last out and the pace should be solid here. He is by Uncle Mo out of a Slew Gin Fiz mare that has dropped two other stakes winners, top earner Musical Romance ($1.2 million).

Airoforce has won three of his four starts with the lone loss coming in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) where he was beaten only a neck. He has three starts on dirt and one in the slop, a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in his last outing.

That race has been live, as the runner up Mor Spirit won the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and Robert B. Lewis (G3) in his next two starts while third place finisher Mo Tom won the Lecomte. He should take to a fast main track, being by Colonel John out of a stakes placed Cuvee mare.


WIN: Mo Tom to win at 5-2 or better.

EXACTA: 2,5 / 2,5,6,10

TRIFECTA: 2,5 / 2,5,6,10 / 2,5,6,10,12


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