International Star drove to a victory in the Louisiana Derby on Saturday to complete a sweep of the three key prep races at Fair Grounds for the Kentucky Derby. (Photo by Alexander Barkoff / Hodges Photography)
For the second straight year, Ken and Sarah Ramsey took the New Orleans path to Churchill Downs for the first Saturday in May. International Star outfinished game pacesetter Stanford to win the $750,000 Louisiana Derby on Saturday at Fair Grounds and punch his ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
The Ramseys won the Louisiana Derby and the Lecomte Stakes in 2014 with Vicar’s in Trouble, who finished third in the Risen Star Stakes, but this year International Star swept the three major New Orleans preps for the Kentucky Derby. He won the Lecomte by 2 ½ lengths in January, the Risen Star by a length in February and completed the triple with a neck win over Stanford in the Louisiana Derby.
“That’s back to back wins for us here in the Louisiana Derby and we swept all three this year,” Ken Ramsey said. “Last year [with Vicar’s in Trouble], we missed out on the Risen Star. Next stop: Kentucky!”
International Star improved to five wins and two seconds from nine career starts for trainer Mike Maker and is unbeaten in three races in 2015. The bay colt by Fusaichi Pegasus completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.67 under Miguel Mena and earned $450,000 to boost his career earnings to $1,010,979.
LOUISIANA DERBY STRETCH DUEL
Photo by Lou Hodges Jr. /Hodges Photography
International Star is the first horse since Friesan Fire in 2009 to win all three major Fair Grounds prep races for the Kentucky Derby.
“He’s a special horse,” Maker said. “We will see how he comes out of the race and decide if we’ll train him like we did before this. I haven’t worked him until three weeks after his races.”
Stanford was very game in defeat. He set an easy, uncontested pace through a half-mile in :48.59 and had plenty of gas in the tank when challenged by International Star in the stretch. He fought bravely until the final sixteenth of a mile, when the winner edged away to prevail.
War Story, who finished second in both the Lecomte and the Risen Star, finished another 4 1/4 lengths back in third in the nine-horse field.
Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard
All three should have sufficient points to advance to the Kentucky Derby. International Star is the new leader with 171 points. Stanford earned his first points with the runner-up finish, but 40 points ranks 15th and should suffice to get him in the Kentucky Derby starting gate should his connections opt to target the first jewel of the Triple Crown. War Story with 44 also should have sufficient points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.
Another Runaway for I’m a Chatterbox
Photo by Alexander Barkoff/Lou Hodges Photography
I’m a Chatterbox extended her winning streak to three and punched her ticket to the Kentucky Oaks with another dominant stakes win at Fair Grounds.
The chestnut Munnings filly pressed the pace from second, seized control on the far turn and coasted to a 2 ½-length victory in the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks as the 3-to-5 favorite.
Shook Up finished second and Forever Unbridled was third as the 5-to-2 second betting choice.
She improved to four wins in six races for trainer Larry Jones and owners Fletcher and Carolyn Gray. I’m a Chatterbox entered the Fair Grounds Oaks off back-to-back wins in the Silverbulletday Stakes and Grade 3 Rachel Alexandra Stakes, both at Fair Grounds.
The Fair Grounds Oaks winner has gone on to win the Kentucky Oaks in six of the last 10 years, and I’m a Chatterbox certainly appears formidable five weeks from the big race.
For Equibase charts, click here.