The 2016 Kentucky Derby prep race schedule for the nation’s top three-year old thoroughbreds turns its attention to this Saturday’s Grade 2 Veteran Ford Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.
I have broken down the field for this year’s Risen Star to come up with my top two horses to string together as a solid sports pick. I will also take a quick look at Saturday’s Grade 2 Rachael Alexander Stakes at Fair Grounds for three-year old fillies as a bonus play.
Veteran Ford Risen Star Stakes- Fair Grounds Race Course
The Risen Star is a Grade 2 stakes race with a total prize purse of $400,000. It is open to three-year old thoroughbreds and it will be contested on the dirt track at Fair Grounds over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
This Saturday’s race will feature a deep and strong field of 13 horses with 12 of the entries rated by Horse Racing Nation. Breaking down the top contenders in the field, I have settled-in on Mo Tom as my top choice. Trained by Thomas Amoss and ridden by Corey Lanerie, this three-year old Kentucky bred colt has already made his mark on the 2016 Kentucky Derby Trail with a victory in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes over a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds on Jan. 16.
Mo Tom also won the Street Sense at Churchill Downs in his first stakes race as a juvenile and he followed that up with a third-place run in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club over a distance of 1 1/16 miles at that same track in late November.
My second choice in the Risen Star is Airoforce. This Kentucky-bred three-year old comes into this race with the highest HRN rating of any horse in the field at 6.53. He is coming off a very successful juvenile campaign that included a second-place finish in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He followed that up with a very impressive victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club.
Trained by Mark Casse and ridden by veteran jockey Julien Leparoux, Airoforce will be making his debut as a three-year old after posting a total of three victories along with the second-place finish at the Breeders’ Cup during his juvenile campaign.
Rachael Alexander Stakes- Fair Grounds Race Course
Another Grade 2 stakes race on Fair Grounds’ Saturday card is the Rachael Alexander. This race is open to three-year old fillies and the total prize purse for this year’s event has been set at $200,000. It will be contested on dirt over a distance of 1 1/16 miles.
The nine-horse field for Saturday’s race features a handful of rated contenders, but the three-year old filly at the top of my list would be Stageplay. Trained by Steve Asmussen, she is coming off a solid victory in the Silverbulletday Stakes at Fair Grounds on Jan. 16 over a distance of 1 mile and 70 yards. She closed-out a very successful juvenile campaign with a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28.
A pedigree of Curlin, Stageplay comes into this race with a HRN rating of 6.92, which is the highest in the field. She will also have a hot jockey on board this Saturday with Florent Geroux getting the ride.
Lovable Lyss faded to fourth in the Silverbulletday Stakes, but she is my pick in the backend of an exacta bet for this Saturday’s race. Trained by Hugh Robertson and ridden by Francisco Torres, this three-year old Kentucky bred filly also comes from a very strong pedigree in Big Brown and her HRN rating stands at 6.59.
Prior to finishing out of the money in her last race, Lovable Lyss closed-out a solid three-race run as a juvenile with a victory in an Allowance race at Fair Grounds on Dec. 17 over a distance of 1 mile 70 yards. She also posted a victory at Fair Grounds in a Maiden Special Weight race in late November to add some more value to this home track advantage.