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Risen Star contenders take to the track
A number of Risen Star hopefuls have put in works over the past week in advance of the Grade 2, $400,000 contest on February 22 at Fair Grounds.
Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, whose New Orleans invaders have won three of the last six renewals of the Risen Star, will be sending Intense Holiday to this year's 41st running of the Risen Star, centerpiece event of four graded stakes on the New Orleans oval's Louisiana Derby Preview Day.
Intense Holiday breezed a half-mile Sunday over the fast main track at Palm Meadows in :48.
During the last three races of his juvenile campaign last year, Intense Holiday finished fifth in Belmont Park's Champagne last October and was then fourth in Aqueduct's Nashua and Remsen in November. The dark bay son of Harlan's Holiday has made one start as a sophomore, finishing third in Gulfstream Park's Holy Bull on January 25 while closing on the leaders.
Vicar's in Trouble, winner of the January 18 Lecomte as the first leg of this year's Grade 2, $1 million Louisiana Derby series, also breezed on Sunday over Fair Grounds' fast dirt, getting five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 for trainer Mike Maker in preparation for the Risen Star.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert worked Hoppertunity a handy half-mile in :47 1/5 on Santa Anita's fast main track Monday in advance of the Risen Star. The bay son of Any Given Saturday broke his maiden impressively with a three-length tally January 30 at the Southern California oval.
Also on Monday in New Orleans, Delta Jackpot hero Rise Up breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 on the fast main track for trainer Tom Amoss.
Lecomte runner-up Albano, hero of last December's Sugar Bowl over the local dirt, went five-eighths in :59 3/5 for trainer Larry Jones. It was the fastest of 24 works at Fair Grounds for the distance on Monday.
Also accomplishing half-mile breezes Monday in preparation for the Risen Star were Lecomte third-placer Gold Hawk, who went :49 for conditioner Steve Asmussen, and maiden winner Xtra Luck, who clocked that same distance in :48 1/5 for trainer Danny Pish.