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International Star Skims The Rail To Win Risen Star

International Star wins his second straight race at the Fair Grounds (Lou Hodges Photography/Fair Grounds)
International Star wins his second straight race at the Fair Grounds (Lou Hodges Photography/Fair Grounds)

International Star Skims The Rail To Win Risen Star

International Star was taken to the rail by jockey Miguel Mena entering the stretch to save ground and it proved to be difference. In the process of winning the Grade 2 Risen Star, International Star proved he loves the Fair Grounds main track, but more importantly he stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby.

The race began with St. Joe Bay going to the lead from his rail position with Hero of Humor pressing the pace as well. Tiznow R J was third by 2 lengths, Big Big Easy was fourth by three, and Bluff was in fifth about four and a half lengths off the lead. International Star was sixth, War Story in seventh, Imperia was in eighth, and Keen Ice was the trailer approximately 10 lengths behind the leader.

The race shape remained unchanged until the far turn when the horses began to make their respective moves. International Star and War Story both began to move on the far turn with both horses first and second by the time they entered the stretch. International Star went up the rail inside of St. Joe Bay to take control.

International Star would hold on to win by a length over War Story. Keen Ice used a strong burst to grab third over St. Joe Bay. The remaining order of finish was Imperia, Bluff, Tiznow R J, Big Big Easy, and Hero of Humor. The running time for the one mile and one sixteenth was 1:43.82.

There was an objection claimed by Kent Desormeaux of War Story regarding the first turn, but it was disallowed by the stewards upon further review.

International Star paid $9.60 to win, $4.60 to place, and $3.40 to show. He was ridden by Miguel Mena and trained by Mike Maker. He also earned 50 points for his victory, which gives him a total of 71 points and on top of the Kentucky Derby Points leaderboard.

War Story earned 20 more points for finishing second, which gives him a total of 24 thus far and places him fifth overall. Keen Ice earned 10 points to give him 12 points total and St. Joe Bay earned 5 points for his fourth place finish to give him 6 points.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on Sunday at Oaklawn Park with the Southwest Stakes.

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.


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.