Fair Grounds: The GII, $400,000 Risen Star (second division) at 1 1/8 miles (Kentucky Derby qualifying points: 50-20-10-5)
by Brian Nadeau
Brian handicaps at Capital OTB and Horseplayer Now, and he’ll offer analysis and selections of Derby points races, hoping to make us all a little money as we head to the Belmont Stakes. You can see his analysis of the first division of the Risen Star here, and follow him on Twitter here.
#1 Modernist (8-1): The first of four recent MSW winners is also the lone horse in the field to run at the distance, and that’s what netted him his easy initial score at Aqueduct last time, so he has the look of a dangerous newcomer in here. Homebred son of Uncle Mo has a typical progressive pattern for Mott, and while he wired last time, it came through slow splits, so he figures to be stalking today, which only adds to his appeal. A win seems like a bit too much to ask at this point, but there’s a ton of upside here, and the corner appears to have been turned, so you better to take notice; logical exotics candidate.
#2 Truculent (20-1): Raison d’Etat homebred wired a local MSW field in his two-turn dirt debut and figures to be sent away from this draw, though there is plenty of speed to his outside, which won’t help his chances. Sisterson has quietly done a good job with these Calumet runners over the past few years, and this colt might be a new horse with the added turn, but he won’t be making any dents today; pace player, no more.
#3 Mr. Big News (20-1): The less fancied of an uncoupled entry for Calhoun was up in time to break his maiden here last month to continue an upward trend in what was his fourth lifetime start. Giant’s Causeway colt has a big pedigree (his damsire is Irish-bred Galileo), so the added ground should surely be to his liking, and his stalking style should come in handy in a race that seems to have some speed. And, aside from the heavy favorite, there’s not a lot in here, so he definitely has a chance for a share; can rally into the number.
#4 Fame to Famous (20-1): Huge longshot has never run on dirt and has never run fast on turf, while beating only restricted maidens in October at Belmont Park, so this son of Tapit seems way out of his element for a McAllen barn that is grasping at straws; get home safely.
#5 Liam’s Lucky Charm (9-2): Homebred son of Khozan wired the 7F Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs in sizzling fashion last time and looks like the speed of the speed here for Nicks. The problem is that this Florida-bred was a well-beaten third in his lone two-turn start in the pricey In Reality for state-breds two back, and that run won’t scare anyone today; adds a lot of fuel to the early fire.
#6 Excession (20-1): Stretch-runner for Asmussen has basically run the same race in his last three starts, which includes a seventh most recently in last month’s local prep, the GIII Lecomte, in which he got a dream pace set-up and still fizzled late. Son of Union Rags has a lot of miles under his belt and will seemingly get another positive race flow today, but that didn’t work last time, so it’s tough to think it will here; fringe player at best.
#7 Major Fed (10-1): Lightly raced son of Ghostzapper added blinkers, stretched out to two turns, and looked like a brand-new commodity when he broke his maiden over the track last time, which was a huge improvement off a distant third on debut at Churchill Downs in November. Stalker goes for an underrated Foley barn and is a lot like Modernist, in that he’s clearly on the improve and might be getting very good at the right time, so while the favorite next door looks like a handful, this colt could has every right to fire another big shot; may outrun his odds.
#8 Anneau d’Or (9-5): Highly accomplished 2-year-old announced his presence on the national scene when second, beaten just a head, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita in November, then backed that run up when again second, this time beaten a neck, to the highly accomplished and thought-of Thousand Words in the GII Los Alamitos Futurity in December. Those who watched the Los Al run and were shouting “blinkers on, blinkers on!” through the lane when he seemingly didn’t want to go by, get their wish here, as Wright adds the hood in an effort to get this son of Medaglia d’Oro to focus a bit more late. Tactical sort seemingly can be placed anywhere and should love this trip, and while he has to travel and play in the backyard of a few solid runners here, it looks like, at this point, he’s simply too much horse for these; imposing.
#9 Lynn’s Map (10-1): Local two-turn AOC winner two back pressed then tired in Oaklawn Park’s Smarty Jones last time when fifth, so he needs to reverse things in a hurry today for Casse. Son of Liam’s Map had it going pretty good before traveling last time, in what was his stakes debut, so if you take the approach that he’s back home, then maybe he can get a piece here, but the bloom seems off the rose; likely to split the field.
#10 Finnick the Fierce (10-1) Deep-closer for the Hernandez barn fell out the back early in the Lecomte, then used the hot pace to rally late and pass a bunch, though he was never a real threat for anything but a smaller piece when fourth, so it appears the aggressive pace flattered him. Dialed In gelding actually takes the blinkers off today, which means he could be even further back early, and while the added distance might help, spotting the favorite, and some hotshot newcomers, too much ground isn’t a recipe for success; can’t endorse.
#11 Mailman Money (8-1): The buzz horse and much more touted of the Calhoun pair made it 2-for-2 when he crushed an off-the-turf AOC field here last time in his two-turn debut after spying the early pace before drawing off late by 5 3/4 lengths. Pricey son of Goldencents has done nothing wrong and answered the bell when they threw more at him off the 24-1 debut 6F CD win, and he’ll have to do it again here, as the favorite not only looks tough to beat but has a huge experience edge as well. Still, this dude has a world of upside and looks like a real comer, and he’s going to sit a good trip in here, too, so if the chalk stubs his toe while running outside of California for the first time, this colt looks poised to take advantage; looms the main danger.
#12 Ny Traffic (10-1): Gulfstream Park invader aired in an AOC there in January after being privately purchased and turned over to Joseph following a fifth-place finish for Wyner in the restricted Notebook at Aqu. Son of Cross Traffic gets thrown to the wolves here from a tough outside draw, so even though his new trainer can work wonders with these types, this just seems like too much to chew; no thanks.
#8 Anneau d’Oro
#11 Mailman Money
#3 Mr. Big News