Rise Up redeemed himself when winning the Delta Downs Jackpot by six lengths after finishing sixth in his only other graded stakes attempt (Photos courtesy of Coady Photography).
Making the Grade, which will run through the 2014 Belmont Stakes, focuses on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the next Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win classic races based upon ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) and pedigree.
This week we take a closer look at Rise Up, winner of the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes on Nov. 23 at Delta Downs.
Success in graded stakes races often is an easy way to determine if a 2-year-old will go on to be a legitimate threat the following year on the Triple Crown trail. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a graded stakes victory, but demonstrating the talent to compete as the competition gets better and better is extremely encouraging. Rise Up’s sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes did little to prove his ability to compete with the best of his generation, but his dominant performance in the Delta Downs Jackpot certainly opened some eyes. With four wins in six starts, including a $1 million graded stakes race, Rise Up earned a spot on the path to the 2014 classics.
“As the race went through my mind this morning, I felt that some very good horses have competed in this race,” said winning trainer Tom Amoss, who won his first $1 million race with the victory. “Mylute [third for Amoss in the 2012 Jackpot] ran second in the Louisiana Derby and third in the Preakness. I thought this was a very good field and I’m excited to be in this kind of company. Hard to believe it’s still Grade 3 status.”
Sire (Father): Rockport Harbor
Dam (Mother): Appenzell, by Johannesburg
Owners: Paul and Andrena Van Doren
Breeder: Cottonwood Stables (Ky.)
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Ability: Rise Up showed potential when second in his career debut at Presque Isle Downs in June. He then won convincingly at Presque Isle later that month as the 1-to-2 favorite. Trainer Tim Hamm subsequently tested him in a stakes race and he passed with flying colors, winning the six-furlong Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths. After that race, owners Paul and Andrena Van Doren purchased Rise Up privately and transferred him to Amoss.
In his first start for his new connections, Rise Up stretched out to 1 1/16 miles and after pressing the pace he faded to sixth. At that point it was fair to ask two key questions: was Rise Up better suited to sprinting and was graded stakes competition too tough for him?
Rise Up delivered a career-best performance in his next start, winning the one-mile Jean Lafitte Stakes with a new top Equibase Speed Figure of 104. He also proved he could do more than sprint. In the Delta Downs Jackpot he answered the graded stakes question as well, powering home to win by six lengths. Clearly, this is a colt to keep an eye on.
Running style: Rise Up won the Delta Downs Jackpot by going right to the front under Gerard Melancon and leading from start to finish. He has natural cruising speed, but this is no one-trick pony. Two of his four wins came from off the pace, so he doesn’t need the lead, but trainer Amoss understands speed is an asset to be used to put Rise Up in the best position to win.
“I’ve been guilty so many times of taking horses with so much tactical speed and making them something they’re not,” Amoss said. “Maybe I almost did that [in the Delta Downs Jackpot], but Gerard took it out of my hands and let him use his speed correctly and got us the win.”
That type of versatility should benefit Rise Up and the races get longer and the competition tougher.
RISE UP POSES IN HIS WINNER'S BLANKET AFTER THE DELTA DOWNS JACKPOT
Connections: Owners Paul and Andrena Van Doren purchased Rise Up after his first stakes win. Andrena raced multiple graded stakes winner Shaconage. The couple has not had a starter in the Kentucky Derby.
Tom Amoss had his best Kentucky Derby finish in 2013 when Mylute closed gamely for fifth and then followed that up with a third-place finish in the Preakness Stakes. A winner of more than 2,850 races as a trainer, Amoss is perhaps best known as the trainer of multiple Grade 1 winner Heritage of Gold.
Melancon has been aboard Rise Up for his last two starts. A winner of more than 4,100 races, Melancon has never had a Kentucky Derby mount.
Previous Making the Grades
Pedigree: Rise Up is from the fourth crop of 2004 Remsen Stakes winner Rockport Harbor, a talented colt whose career was cut short because of a hoof injury. Rockport Harbor won three graded stakes among five wins from eight starts. His graded stakes wins came at one mile, 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles.
Rockport Harbor is also the sire of 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Ria Antonia.
Appenzell, by Johannesburg, is the dam (mother) of Rise Up. She won two of 13 starts, both in sprints, and both of her foals that have made it to the track to date have won. Appenzell is a half-sister to multiple stakes-placed winner Old Fashion Girl, the dam of Grade 3-placed stakes winner In the Rough. Both Old Fashion Girl and In the Rough were best around two turns and preferred the grass.
Grade 2 winner Beal Street Blues, third in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes in 1992, is Rise Up’s third dam (maternal great-grandmother) and adds a nice dose of class to this family, which also is responsible for 1989 Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Dixieland Brass.
Rise’s Up’s pedigree provides enough class to keep me interested as the races get longer without having the “wow factor” of some of his peers. Of greater interest to me is how impressively he won in his four victories, as the combined winning margin of 21 ¾ lengths proves Rise Up has the ability to dazzle.