The Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford signals a big change on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve. While the previous preps, with the exception of the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Presented by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, were worth 10-4-2-1 qualifying points to the top four finishers, the Risen Star carries a top prize of 50 points to the winner.
That hefty prize is enough to virtually guarantee Saturday’s victor a spot in the field for the run for the roses, heightening what’s at stake for the 13 starters.
1. Starrininmydreams (12-1 morning-line odds): He’s 2-for-2 in his brief career and will be tested for class here while making his stakes debut. He looks like a horse with a nice future ahead of him, but this could be a tall task for him at this stage of his career.
JOCKEY: Brian Hernandez Jr.; TRAINER: Dallas Stewart
2. Proxy (8-1): He was second by a length in the Lecomte Stakes earlier in the meet and the top four finishers from that 1 1/16-mile stakes will square off here. He’s been working well since then, but the biggest boost to his chances is adding Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the saddle. He’s a major threat.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez; TRAINER: Mike Stidham
3. Beep Beep (20-1): Despite the name, he’s no roadrunner. He had a rough trip when fourth last time in an allowance race, but he’ll need to take a huge step forward off his maiden win to be a factor here.
JOCKEY: Miguel Mena; TRAINER: Norm Casse
4. Carillo (15-1): Moved into Tom Amoss’ barn after a debut win for Chad Brown at Aqueduct in early January. The final time was modest and this looks like a tough spot for him.
JOCKEY: James Graham; TRAINER: Tom Amoss
5. Senor Buscador (6-1): He’s 2-for-2 and closed impressively to win the Remington Springboard Mile in fast time. The added distance figures to suit him and, with some help from a quick pace, he should be major player.
JOCKEY: Luis Quinonez; TRAINER: Todd Fincher
6. Midnight Bourbon (6-1): He won the Lecomte in front-running style and seems to have developed quite nicely from 2 to 3. Given his connections, continued improvement would not be a surprise. He should be on the lead again here and, even with the extra sixteenth of a mile, he will be hard to reel in. He’s a must use in the exotics.
JOCKEY: Joe Talamo; TRAINER: Steve Asmussen
7. O Besos (12-1): He’s a late-running sprinter who will be trying two turns for the first time. He’s on the upswing and his most recent win earned a nice speed figure. While sprinters like him often do not stretch out and this seems a difficult spot for his two-turn debut, he’s by Orb, a Kentucky Derby winner, which should help his cause.
JOCKEY: Marcelino Pedroza; TRAINER: Greg Foley
8. Sermononthemount (50-1): He was a winner in maiden and allowance races but in between he lost by 10 lengths in a Fair Grounds stakes. That was in a sprint so maybe the longer distance can help – and he’ll need a lot of it here to be competitive.
JOCKEY: Declan Carroll; TRAINER: Tim Dixon
9. Defeater (12-1): He won his debut in nice time but that was six furlongs and this is a whole different ballgame than that sprint against nonwinners. He’s also entered in an optional-claiming race earlier on the card and that might be a better fit for him.
JOCKEY: Diego Saenz; TRAINER: Tom Amoss
10.Santa Cruiser (15-1): He rallied for fourth in the Lecomte, but was nearly 10 lengths behind Midnight Bourbon. The added distance should help, but he probably needs more help than that to turn the tables on his Lecomte rivals and everyone else.
JOCKEY: Adam Beschizza; TRAINER: Keith Desormeaux
11. Mandaloun (9-2): He didn’t have the best of trips in the Lecomte, racing wide throughout while settling for third. Given the ground loss, his effort was better than it may seem. He adds blinkers here and, if he can work out a better trip, he will be quite formidable.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux; TRAINER: Brad Cox
12. Keepmeinmind (3-1): He’s coming off a maiden win but that came in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes after a third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and a second in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity. He’s been tested against the top horses in this crop and done quite well. If he handles the jump from to 2 to 3, he’s the one to beat. UPDATE: On Feb. 10, trainer Robertino Diodoro said that Keepmeinmind would scratch from the Risen Star and instead target the rescheduled Southwest Stakes on Feb. 20 at Oaklawn Park for his seasonal debut.
JOCKEY: David Cohen; TRAINER: Robertino Diodoro
13. Rightandjust (15-1): He was claimed for $50,000 and comes off a pair of wins at Fair Grounds on the front end. That running style, however, will most likely work against him here from the outside post against stakes competition.
JOCKEY: Mitchell Murrill; TRAINER: Shane Wilson
THE PICK: Mandaloun
LIVE LONGSHOT: Proxy