2019 Risen Star Stakes Cheat Sheet

Racing
The field for the 2018 Risen Star Stakes races through the stretch, with Bravazo (second from left) eventually prevailing over Snapper Sinclair (second from right) by a nose.
The field for the 2018 Risen Star Stakes races through the stretch, with Bravazo (second from left) eventually prevailing over Snapper Sinclair (second from right) by a nose. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The $400,000, Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford on Feb. 16 is the second of three qualifying preps for the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve held at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, and the steppingstone to the March 23 TwinSpires Louisiana Derby. This year’s renewal offers qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on a 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers, and the full field of 14 (plus one also-eligible) includes horses shipping in from out of state as well as six contenders returning from the Lecomte Stakes held at Fair Grounds on Jan. 19, making it arguably the most competitive and intriguing of this season’s Derby preps to date.

The Risen Star, held at 1 1/16 miles and named after the 1988 champion, Preakness and Belmont winner, will be televised on TVG with a scheduled post time of 7:02 p.m. ET. Keep reading for the scoop on the 2019 Risen Star Stakes contenders, presented in post-position order with morning-line odds.


Plus Que Parfait
Coady Photography

1. Plus Que Parfait (10-1)

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Brendan Walsh

Owner: Imperial Racing

Career record: 5 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $90,400

Earnings per start: $18,080

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Pedigree: Point of Entry – Belvedera, by Awesome Again

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This ridgling comes into the Risen Star off of a fifth-place finish in the Lecomte Stakes where he stumbled at the start and had a rough trip. He ran very well in his prior two dirt starts around two turns, winning a 1 1/16-mile maiden at Keeneland last fall by a nose over recent Fasig-Tipton Holy Bull Stakes winner Harvey Wallbanger and then losing by a neck to Signalman in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs. He’s eligible to bounce back in the Risen Star and, as a deep closer, drawing the inside post should not hurt his chances. Plus Que Parfait also has a good long-distance pedigree and a patient jockey in Julien Leparoux, which are both advantages going up against a full field on Saturday.


Roiland
Coady Photography

2. Roiland (20-1)

Jockey: James Graham

Trainer: Tom Amoss

Owners: James and Mary Durlacher

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $79,660

Earnings per start: $15,932

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 91

Pedigree: Successful Appeal – Anabranch, by Congaree

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This deep closer never got going in the Lecomte Stakes, breaking slowly and racing in last through the backstretch before rallying modestly to finish seventh of 12 in his first start as a 3-year-old. Roiland won two of four starts as a juvenile last year, and ran a decent fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. This colt will need a strong pace and a clean trip to have a shot at hitting the board against a full field on Saturday, but he has continued to train well at Fair Grounds for locally-based Tom Amoss, who won the 1994 Risen Star Stakes with Fly Cry. Jockey James Graham, the current earnings leader at the Fair Grounds meet, won the 2013 Risen Star aboard 135.20-1 longshot Ive Struck a Nerve.


Mr. Money
Coady Photography

3. Mr. Money (12-1)

Jockey: Gabriel Saez

Trainer: Bret Calhoun

Owner: Allied Racing Stable

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $150,400

Earnings per start: $37,600

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92

Pedigree: Goldencents – Plenty O’Toole, by Tiznow

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son of Goldencents returns for his first start as a 3-year-old in the Risen Star with a handful of strong workouts at Fair Grounds in tow. As a juvenile, he broke his maiden in his third start, winning a 1 1/16-mile race at Churchill Downs, and then ran a decent, albeit nonthreatening, fourth in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at the same track. Mr. Money has shown the ability to secure a stalking position early in his races and that should help him in the Risen Star provided he gets a clean break. His pedigree on his dam’s (mother’s) side includes 2009 Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed. Jockey Gabriel Saez won the 2009 Risen Star aboard Freisan Fire.


4. Chase the Ghost (30-1)

Jockey: Mitchell Murrill

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: Holy Cow Stable

Career record: 6 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $45,077

Earnings per start: $7,513

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 96

Pedigree: Ghostzapper – Unbridled Wee, by Holy Bull

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The first of two Dallas Stewart-trained runners in the Risen Star finished between Plus Que Parfait and Roiland in the Lecomte Stakes, checking in sixth. That was his first start as a 3-year-old after an active juvenile campaign last year that concluded with a close runner-up finish and then a win at Fair Grounds, the victory coming in a 1 1/16-mile race. Chase the Ghost earned a career-best 96 Equibase Speed Figure in the Lecomte, and if he improves off of that start could hit the board Saturday at what should be very long odds. Stewart won the 2001 Risen Star with Dollar Bill.


Henley's Joy
Lauren King/Coglianese photo

5. Henley’s Joy (10-1)

Jockey: Manuel Franco

Trainer: Mike Maker

Owner: Bloom Racing Stable

Career record: 6 starts – 3 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $372,160

Earnings per start: $62,027

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Pedigree: Kitten’s Joy – Blue Grass Magic, by Bluegrass Cat

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son of champion and leading turf sire Kitten’s Joy looms as a wildcard in the Risen Star, which will be his first start on dirt. He enjoyed a very successful 2-year-old season last fall, winning three times in five starts – including turf stakes wins at Kentucky Downs and Gulfstream Park – and finishing second by a nose in the Grade 3 Dixiana Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland (War of Will finished fourth in that race). He returned for his 3-year-old campaign on Jan. 5 and just missed by a neck in the listed Kitten’s Joy Stakes on turf at Gulfstream. His pedigree is grass-oriented, but Henley’s Joy has displayed a versatile running style against large fields (no start with fewer than nine horses) that should serve him well on Saturday, and he deserves a shot in a Derby prep. Mike Maker won the 2015 Risen Star with International Star.


Hog Creek Hustle
Coady Photography

6. Hog Creek Hustle (8-1)

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Vickie Foley

Owner: Something Special Racing

Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $121,300

Earnings per start: $24,260

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Pedigree: Overanalyze – Candy Fortune, by Candy Ride

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt finished a late-running second to War of Will in the Lecomte Stakes in his most recent start, defeated by four lengths. He won two of four starts as a juvenile in 2018, and finished third behind eventual Smarty Jones Stakes winner Gray Attempt and Manny Wah in his final start at 2 at Fair Grounds on Dec. 22. Like several others entered in Saturday’s Risen Star, Hog Creek Hustle is a closer who will be dependent on fast early fractions, but he earned a career-best 100 Equibase Speed Figure in the Lecomte and should be considered for all exotics. Jockey Florent Geroux, leading rider at the 2016, 2017, and 2018 Fair Grounds meets, won the 2016 Risen Star aboard eventual 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner.


Manny Wah
Coady Photography

7. Manny Wah (12-1)

Jockey: Channing Hill

Trainer: Wayne Catalano

Owner: Susan Moulton

Career record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $119,225

Earnings per start: $14,903

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 99

Pedigree: Will Take Charge – Battlefield Angel, by Proud Citizen

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Manny Wah chased War of Will’s pace in the Lecomte Stakes, his most recent start, and weakened in the stretch to finish third behind that foe and Hog Creek Hustle. As one of the few horses entered in the Risen Star who prefers racing near the lead, he should be a factor in shaping the outcome once again on Saturday with good pace rider Channing Hill aboard. He has tired in both of his career starts over a mile, however, which is a concern despite having a pedigree that is one of the most stamina-packed in the Risen Star field. He’s a son of 2013 Travers Stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic runner-up Will Take Charge and counts 2017 Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee among his close relatives on his dam’s side of the pedigree.


8. Owendale (6-1)

Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owner: Rupp Racing

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $63,225

Earnings per start: $10,538

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 95

Pedigree: Into Mischief – Aspen Light, by Bernardini

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Enters the Risen Star off of a sharp 1 ½-length win over Frolic More and Gun It in a one mile and seventy yard allowance optional claiming race at Fair Grounds, his first start of 2019. He finished his 2-year-old season with another good start at the track, losing by a neck at the same two-turn distance, and should provide pace pressure to probable frontrunner War of Will on Saturday. Owendale will need to improve to reach the winner’s circle in the Risen Star against tougher competition than he’s faced before, but has a very good pedigree (his extended female family includes Stellar Wind and Mor Spirit) and a successful jockey-trainer combo in Shaun Bridgmohan and Brad Cox. Cox currently leads all trainers at Fair Grounds in earnings, while Bridgmohan has a Risen Star win on his résumé, taking the 2008 renewal aboard Pyro.


Country House
Leslie Martin/Coglianese photo

9. Country House (20-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: Mrs. J. V. Shields Jr., E. J. M. McFadden Jr., and LNJ Foxwoods

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $40,175

Earnings per start: $13,392

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 94

Pedigree: Lookin At Lucky – Quake Lake, by War Chant

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt, along with California shipper Kingly, adds intrigue to Saturday’s Risen Star as he brings strong out-of-town buzz to the bayou. He arrives off of a rallying 3 ½-length score in a 1 1/16-mile Jan. 17 Gulfstream Park maiden special weight, where he broke slowly but unleashed a nice turn of foot to put five opponents away at the top of the stretch. That was only his third career start, and his first since losing by half-length on Dec. 1 at Aqueduct to Kentucky Wildcat, who came back to finish second in last Saturday’s Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Country House faces a big class test in the Risen Star and will need to maneuver a clean trip through a crowded field to set up his run, but he is worth considering as an upset candidate based on his potential, his pedigree, and his connections in Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and Luis Saez, who leads all Gulfstream Park jockeys in wins at the current championship meet.


Limonite
Coady Photography

10. Limonite (10-1)

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds

Career record: 4 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 2 thirds

Career earnings: $84,300

Earnings per start: $21,075

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 89

Pedigree: Lemon Drop Kid – Colina Verde, by Know Heights

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt sits at as a morning-line 10-1 shot in the Risen Star field, as he is making his first start at 3 after a 2 ½-month break and carries some of the lowest speed figures in the field. However, there are several positive signs as well that make him worth considering in exotic bets and maybe even as an upset win candidate. He ran well in all four starts as a juvenile, winning once and losing his other three races by less than a combined three lengths. In his final start at 2, he closed late to finish third behind Signalman and Plus Que Parfait in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, held at 1 1/16 miles. Limonite has been training steadily at Fair Grounds and has a good route pedigree as the son of Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid and out of a dam who was a champion in Brazil. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has won the Risen Star twice, with Pyro in 2008 and Gun Runner in 2016. Jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. won the 2017 Risen Star aboard Girvin.


Dunph
Coady Photography

11. Dunph (20-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Mike Maker

Owner: Three Diamonds Farm

Career record: 4 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $151,540

Earnings per start: $37,885

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 101

Pedigree: Temple City – Skymynx, by Sky Mesa

Color: Dark bay or brown

Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Mike Maker’s second Risen Star contender ships in from Florida, where he’s been training since finishing third in the Springboard Mile Stakes on Dec. 16, his final start as a 2-year-old. He stalked the early pace and took the lead coming out of the far turn in that two-turn, one-mile race, but was overtaken by stalker Long Range Toddy and closer Bankit to lose by 2 ½ lengths. Dunph won his first two career starts by a combined 16 ¼ lengths, including a seven-furlong listed stakes race at Churchill Downs with a 100 Equibase Speed Figure, but then tired to finish ninth in the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes prior to the Springboard Mile. This gelding is talented, but stamina remains a question and his pedigree influences project him as more of a miler than a classic distance horse. Bringing prominent jockey Jose Ortiz in to ride is a big plus, however.


12. Frolic More (10-1)

Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owners: Andrew Farm and On Our Own Stable

Career record: 5 starts – 1 win – 2 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $68,170

Earnings per start: $13,634

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 93

Pedigree: More Than Ready – Summer Frolic, by Pulpit

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Frolic More ran well in his first start as a 3-year-old, finishing second to Owendale on Jan. 17 at Fair Grounds in a two-turn allowance optional claiming race. That marked his first start since he broke his maiden in his fourth career try, taking a seven-furlong race at Churchill Downs by 1 ¾ lengths on Nov. 17. Like Chase the Ghost, the other Dallas Stewart trainee in this race, Frolic More has been working well at Fair Grounds, and his mid-pack running style might give him the advantage against his deep-closing stablemate in Saturday’s crowded Risen Star. Among the notable relatives on his dam’s side of the family are millionaire Lewis Bay and Holy Bull Stakes winner Winslow Homer.


13. Kingly (12-1)

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Clearview Stables

Career record: 2 starts -1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds

Career earnings: $43,200

Earnings per start: $21,600

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 100

Pedigree: Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union

Color: Bay

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt from trainer Bob Baffert’s stacked California barn is expected to scratch from the race (he is also entered in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Saturday, a Derby points race). If he runs in the Risen Star, his two career starts offer plenty of potential. He won his debut on Dec. 1 of last year going six furlongs at Del Mar, dueling for the lead and putting away both the pacesetter and another rival in the stretch in a three-quarter length score. He returned on Jan. 19 and stretched out to a mile at Santa Anita in an allowance optional claiming race, and finished a clear second to Grade 1 stakes-placed Extra Hope. If he moves forward from that initial race around two turns, he should be among the horses pressing War of Will through the backstretch, and he has the pedigree to be a major factor in the late stages. He’s a son of top sire Tapit and out of a graded stakes-winning dam who has also produced Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day and Fountain of Youth Stakes and Holy Bull Stakes winner Mohaymen (who is this colt’s full brother [same sire, same dam]). Baffert would be bringing Kingly back on just over two weeks’ rest and shipping him cross-country to a track he rarely competes at – both signs of confidence should the colt make the trip.


War of Will
Lou Hodges, Jr. /Hodges Photography

14. War of Will (5-2)

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: Gary Barber

Career record: 6 starts – 2 wins – 1 second – 1 third

Career earnings: $251,569

Earnings per start: $41,928

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107

Pedigree: War Front – Visions of Clarity, by Sadler’s Wells

Color: Bay

Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: The Risen Star morning-line favorite drew a tough post position but still is a major threat to run away from his 13 foes based on the ability he’s displayed in his two most recent starts. Since being switched to dirt by Mark Casse late last November, he won a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Churchill Downs by five lengths and then returned to post a dominant four-length victory in the Lecomte Stakes over five of his Risen Star opponents. He had already shown plenty of talent in his first four starts, all on turf, but has proven to be even better on dirt and can further burnish his credentials as a leading Kentucky Derby contender with a good showing (not necessarily a win) in the Risen Star. Jockey Tyler Gaffalione will have to hustle his mount out of the starting gate in order to establish a prominent early position, as this colt prefers to race on or close to the lead, but War of Will’s Feb. 9 workout at Fair Grounds (four furlongs in :47.20) was especially strong and he appears ready to take another step forward on Saturday.


15. Gun It (10-1, also-eligible)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: Whisper Hill Farm and Three Chimneys Farm

Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 0 seconds – 1 third

Career earnings: $33,130

Earnings per start: $11,043

Top Equibase Speed Figure: 92

Pedigree: Tapit – Miss Besilu, by Medaglia d’Oro

Color: Gray or roan

Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This superbly-bred colt will draw into the Risen Star if Kingly scratches as expected, and if he does he’ll be one of several contenders who lacks graded stakes experience but packs plenty of upside. He’s only made three career starts, finishing fourth in his debut last October at Churchill Downs and then winning a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight at Fair Grounds by 4 ¼ lengths on Dec. 22. He returned for his sophomore season and finished a slightly disappointing third behind Owendale and Frolic More on Jan. 17 at Fair Grounds, but has trained well since and is eligible to improve in his second start of 2019, albeit against much stronger competition. Gun It’s $2.6 million purchase price as a Keeneland yearling back in 2017 reflects elite bloodlines, as his dam was Grade 1-placed and is a close relative to a handful of top-class racehorses, including 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam and 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, both Breeders’ Cup Classic winners.

newsletter sign-up

Stay up-to-date with the best from America's Best Racing!