2015 Risen Star Stakes Preview

2015 Risen Star Stakes Preview

The second of two Kentucky Derby Prep races on Saturday is the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds Racecourse. The other Kentucky Derby prep race is the Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream.

The Risen Star will be at 1 1/16 miles on the main track with a purse of $400,000. Like the Fountain Of Youth, this race carries a 50-20-10-5 point distribution to the top four horses towards the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. The winner is virtually assured of a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate should they make it that far with a win in any 50 or 100 point race.

10 horses were entered for the Risen Star, but only 9 horses will start after the defection of J S Bach on Friday. Post time for the Risen Star is at 6:24 Eastern Time with free past performances here.

1. St. Joe Bay (12-1 Morning Line) – Two starts back, he ran in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes where he finished fourth by 9 lengths behind Calculator and Rock Shandy. His latest race was a second place finish in an optional claiming $80,000 when he tried to wire the field. He lost to impressive winner Prospect Park who is now under consideration for Kentucky Derby prep races. His early speed will help secure a good spot from the rail, but he may not hang around late in the stretch.

2. Tiznow R J (5-1 ML) – It took him three starts to break his maiden, but he did so with a 13 score going a mile and 70 yards at the Fair Grounds. His next race was the Grade 3 Lecomte on January 17 where he had great position throughout, but was unable to maintain his run in the stretch and finished third by 2 1/2 lengths. He should be able to sit off the pace here again, but the question is can he maintain his run in the stretch to win?

3. Bluff (12-1 ML) – He began his career against the horse to his inside and finished fifth by 18 lengths. In his second start he was eight by 7 1/4 lengths before breaking through in his third career race. He won by 5 3/4 lengths on January 22 geared down in the stretch. His two workouts since the win have been solid and he has a stalking style to stay in distance. However, he may be out of his class here against these horses.

4. J S Bach (5-1 ML) – Scratched due to a fever.

5. Imperia (7-2 ML) – He began his career on turf finishing second his debut before breaking his maiden in the Grade 3 Pilgrim at Belmont. His third start was in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf where he was 10th by 3 3/4 lengths. Four weeks later he made his debut on dirt and finished second by a head to El Kabeir in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club. He has not raced since then and the defection of J S Bach hurts the potential pace scenario. He still has a big chance to win this race.

6. War Story (5-1 ML) – He was originally entered to run in the Southwest Stakes on Monday, but the cancellation of the card at Oaklawn changed his plans to race here. He broke his maiden in his debut by 2 3/4 lengths before winning his second start by the same margin. His last race was the Grade 3 Lecomte when he was overtaken in the stretch by International Star and finished second by 2 1/2 lengths. He rates a big chance in this race.

7. Hero of Humor (30-1 ML) – He has 7 starts to his credit with a two wins and a second. Those finishes came in maiden or optional claiming events while his three starts in stakes competition have left a lot to be desired. His best finish of the three stakes starts was in the Grade 3 Lecomte on January 17 when he was sixth by 8 1/2 lengths. He will be on the lead, but expect him to fade in the stretch.

8. Keen Ice (8-1 ML) – He broke his maiden in his second start before trying stakes competition where he has yet to threaten in three tries. He was fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland by 13 lengths before finishing third by 8 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Remsen. His last start was in the Grade 2 Holy Bull where he finished a well beaten fifth by 10 lengths. He will have to improve drastically to make an impact here.

9. Big Big Easy (12-1 ML) – He broke his maiden in his second start by a neck at Indiana Downs and then tried stakes competition on turf where he finished ninth by 15 lengths. He returned to dirt to win by 3 1/4 lengths and went into another stakes race where he finished fifth by 15 lengths. This race is in New Orleans so a hunch play may be in order if you are so inclined. His chances to win are slime here.

10. International Star (9-2 ML)The winner of the Grade 3 Lecomte found room in the stretch to win by 2 1/2 lengths over War Story and Tiznow R J. That win came from the rail and now he finds himself the widest horse in this race. He will have to find a nice spot from out here and he can certainly run late. He is another horse with a chance to win here.

Selections

This race has a chalky appearance to it. #6 War Story should have a good trip behind the leaders while #5 Imperia will be coming late along with #10 International Star. #2 Tiznow R J has a chance to hit the ticket underneath while #1 St. Joe Bay and #3 Bluff could add value to the ticket.

1. War Story

2. Imperia

3. Tiznow R J

4. International Star

Check back on Saturday night for a recap of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes.

2015 Fountain Of Youth Stakes Preview

2015 Fountain Of Youth Stakes Preview

The Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Saturday is shaping up to be an excellent prelude to the Florida Derby five weeks from Saturday on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The top four finishers from the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes return to run on Saturday as well as Itsaknockout who has been impressive in both of his starts.

The Fountain Of Youth will be contested over the main track at 1 1/16 miles with the Grade 2 event carrying a $400,000 purse. A total of 8 horses will be competing in this race, but the most important aspect is the points that will be awarded to the top four finishers. The winner will get 50 points towards the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, second place receives 20 points, third place receives 10 points, and fourth place receives 5 points.

A win in this race essentially clinches a spot in the Kentucky Derby while a poor showing puts immense pressure on a horse to finish in the top two in their next start.

Below is a look at each horse in the race. Post time is scheduled for 5:30 PM Eastern Time. Free past performances for this race can be found here.

1. Juan and Bina (20-1 Morning Line)He ran fourth in the Holy Bull after attempting to come from off the pace. He was hard to handle for much of the race and had to go wide in the stretch. He now has the blinkers taken off in an attempt to settle him down. Prior to the Holy Bull, he was 5th in a listed stakes race here at Gulfstream and second in a listed stakes at Gulfstream Park West. Given the talent in this race, his ceiling appears to be underneath.

2. Bluegrass Singer (8-1 ML)He also ran in the Holy Bull, finishing third after prompting the pace. His comment line says no match, which is a perfect way to describe his race. He won an optional claimer and a listed stakes race prior to the Holy Bull. In 8 starts he has only missed the board once (his debut). He will be a solid price, but the waters are a bit deeper this race and he is looking at an underneath finish.

3. Frammento (30-1 ML)Yet another horse out of the Holy Bull, he was not a factor finishing sixth by 18 lengths. His only win has been at the maiden level (at Keeneland) with his next best race two back when he was second by 4 3/4 here at Gulfstream. That was against optional claiming $75,000 and his last race proved too tough of a test. Pass on his chances here.

4. Gorgeous Bird (6-1 ML) – Here is the first of three horses to not have run in the Holy Bull. He ran his debut race in August at Saratoga where he 6th in a 10 horse field. After a freshening, he came back 3 months later to win at Churchill Downs by a length and a quarter going 7 furlongs. Another break of 2 months gave him time to acclimate to the Florida weather. He came off that layoff to crush his foes by 7 lengths in an optional claiming $75,000. His bullet work on February 13 is a good sign and he could pull of the upset here.

5. Itsaknockout (4-1 ML) – We arrive at the lightly raced son of Lemon Drop Kid. His first start came here at Gulfstream on December 7 where he won a tightly contested race by a nose. He then came back on January 4 to crush an optional claiming $75,000 field by 5 1/4 lengths going one mile. It is hard not to like his chances here though he will have competition from the two horses to his outside. He is a must use on top in the exotics.

6. Frosted (5-2 ML)The second place finisher in the Holy Bull, he tried to run down Upstart but was not nearly good enough. He has yet to miss the exacta in five career starts, however, he only has 1 win from those five starts. The Holy Bull represented his first start in nearly two months and he will have the blinkers put on for the Fountain Of Youth. He is a logical top three choice in this race to win.

7. Upstart (8-5 ML) – We have the class of the field in the 8-5 morning line favorite. He won the Grade 2 Holy Bull by 5 1/2 lengths after pulling away in the stretch. Before that race, he was third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and second in Grade 1 Champagne. Jose Ortiz should have Upstart in a good spot all the way around the track and he will be the one to beat as they turn for home.

8. Danny Boy (15-1 ML) – Here we have a horse that has made 3 of his 4 career starts on turf. His broke his maiden in his debut at Ellis Park by 3 lengths before finishing fourth by 3 1/2 lengths in his only dirt race – the Grade 3 Iroquois at Churchill. He returned to the turf course for the next start where he was second by a half length in the Grade 3 Bourbon at Keeneland. He went on to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf where he had some trouble at the start and in the stretch. He finished 8th, beaten only 3 lengths, but has not raced since then. This is hardly the spot one wants to be in when making their second start on dirt. He will have a tough time against the horses here. Pass.

 

Selections

After an extensive look at this race, it appears #7 Upstart and #5 Itsaknockout are the top two choices here. #6 Frosted is getting blinkers on and could be closer at the finish. #1 Juan and Bina, #2 Bluegrass Singer, and #4 Gorgeous Bird could all figure in the exotics as well.

1. Upstart

2. Itsaknockout

3. Frosted

4. Gorgeous Bird

Check back on Saturday evening for a recap of the Grade 2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes.