Risen Star Stakes (Grade 2) (KYD)- $400.000 Purse
FG- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
February 15, 2020
The stakes are greater this Saturday for those on the KYD trail, as the first 50-point race of the season takes place down at FG in the 15th running of the Risen Star Stakes. This is a race that Beach Dandy included on his march to the KYD, setting the track record for the stake in the process. Other well known past winners of the race include Fusion, Laffin Policeman, and Moment Of Madness. We won’t see the current horse considered to be the top three year old in the game, Brittle, in this race, but we do get a mix of accomplished stars, as well as those looking to make themselves known. The gate is full, so let’s meet the field.
#1- Becket (John Henry, ridden by F Geroux)- I’m on record in the private sales thread in saying that I believe Mb Stables got the better end of the horse swap that occurred between he and John Henry. Is Becket really a TC hopeful? He’s a good horse, but at the graded level, he has yet to be seen near the frontrunners in three tries. Works seem a tick or two slower then others who are bigger contenders, and my feeling is that he will emerge as a good horse but needs to continue to grow and mature. There’s still time.
#2- Dawning II (Estero Farms, ridden by L Saez)- Here’s one looking to establish himself in this division. Broke his maiden in his fifth start, coming at SA in October, but didn’t like the mud in the race that followed, a smaller ungraded stake. Works have shown improvement since then, and that is imperative in seeing him as having a shot in here. A heavy price was paid for him in the auction eleven months ago, so the trainer wants to start seeing some dividends.
#3- Spirited Stride (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano)- Mb Stables knows when it’s time to sell a horse, hence why you didn’t offer to see him selling Spirited Stride in private sales. He’s won half of his eight starts, highlighted by a pair of Grade 1’s out west (the DMR Futurity and the Pharoah), sending him to the BC Juvenile. There, he cashed a check as the fourth place finisher, but did not adapt to the mud in his last start, coming here last month in the Grade 3 Lecomte. Needs to have a bounce back race, or maybe we will see that private sales thread.
#4- Zigs Really Poor (Rock Creek, ridden by E Cancel)- The trainer had a great eye for this one, picking him up in a $16.000 claimer, being the only one to put in a claim. From that race, he started running him long, and was aggressive with his placement. The Grade 2 KY Jockey Club was tough, but he didn’t stink up the show, either. Recovered well from that in finishing third in the $150.000 Jerome at AQU. I may have looked for one of the smaller February prep races for him over this, but he’s developing quite nicely for sure.
#5- Mystery (Fractious, ridden by T Gaffalione)- This gelding has had his moments and is looking to pick up a big score against this level of competition. Those moments have come while running in the Empire State, winning the $100.000 Violette and running third at the $200.000 Funny Cide, each for NY-breds at SAR, before cashing a fourth place check at the Grade 1 Champagne. He was flat, however, last month in his Fractious debut in the Grade 3 Sham, so we’ll see if that can be a throw out or not.
#6- Sweet Sweat (Mb Stables, ridden by J R Velazquez)- One of the bigger threats at this point in time to Brittle, but there is still a lot of time to go before that. Sweet Sweat has won two of his last three, and those were pretty good races, coming in the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity and the $400.000 RP Springboard Mile. Between them, he ran third in the BC Juvenile, and was within a length of Brittle there. Makes his three year old debut here, and there’s no reason to think he won’t run well. He is my pick.
#7- King Que Niagra (Aer Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan)- The trainer doesn’t need to have Brittle in the race in order to send out a contender, and he will have the stake’s most successful jockey aboard for it. He is still untested at this level, as it is his graded debut. Was last seen running third in the $200.000 CA Cup Derby, for CA-breds, but that was not good enough for the trainer, and he was gelded ten days after. Worked nicely at SA before coming here.
#8- Anoush Command (Serenity Stables, ridden by K J Desormaux)- Been running into this one quite a few times in my races to write up, and Anoush Command always leaves an impression on me as a runner who never leaves anything on the table. To be considered a bigger threat in this division he will have to win, and not just hit the board, in a graded stake. Came from way off the pace here last month in the muddy Lecomte to just miss and finish as the runner up. He gets a little more ground this time, but will be chasing stronger rivals.
#9- Bay Bound (Gdp Inc, ridden by C J Lanerie)- This is another who last raced here in the rain-soaked Lecomte last month, and like Anoush Command, Bay Bound was way off the early pace and made a valiant close. He was a little further back when he began his run, but ended up getting up for fourth. His most impressive race to this point was one where he actually was on the lead early, the DMR Futurity where he was the runner up to Spirited Stride. Will Gdp be looking for that again, or will be near the back once again to start?
#10- Red Divos Alliance (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by M Tunon)- Broke his maiden in his fifth start, coming against three other FL-breds at CRC. Off of that, the trainer made a big jump with him, thrusting him into the Grade 2 Remsen, and he was well off the pace there at the end. Fared better against ungraded company a month later in the $150.000, so is Red Divos Alliance an improving horse and ready to show us the Remsen was just a fluke? This is a tough field to be in for that, but let’s see!
#11- Stark (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by A Beschizza)- A horse that is looking for more consistency at the level. In his eight starts, he has only managed to win one of them but he has shown promise at times. At KEE last October, he closed hard to finish second, to Sweet Sweat, in the Grade 1 Breeders Futurity. Also ran fourth in the KY Jockey Club. Then, there are several subpar finishes, though a couple look like races where that classic HRP blanket finish was in play. Maybe he just needs a little more luck. Didn’t get it in post draw.
#12- Class Edge (Chili King Stables, ridden by J R Leparoux)- Appeared in the BC last November, but it was in the Juvenile Turf and that prompted him to go back to the main track. Though he’s been racing in mud and slop and not on dirt since then, he did finish well in the Grade 3 Lecomte here, placing third, and it was from eleven. So, things will be much the same for him here though at the moment it’s looking dry.