Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Anneau d’Or and Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable are top draws, and Saturday’s Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds has split into divisions after receiving 23 entries. Both retain the original $400,000 purse, which means each will yield 85 qualifying points (50-20-10-5 scale) toward a Kentucky Derby berth, and the Risen Star has been lengthened this year to 1 1/8 miles.
The Risen Star is the first of 16 Championship Series races in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Enforceable will meet 10 challengers in the first division, which brings back five of the top six from the Jan. 18 Lecomte. Trained by Mark Casse, who won last year’s Risen Star with eventual Preakness (G1) hero War of Will, Enforceable earned his first stakes win with a 1 1/2-length decision last time, and the late-running son of Tapit will retain the services of Julien Leparoux.
Silver State finished a rallying second in the Lecomte for Steve Asmussen, and the Hard Spun colt drew better in post 2 Saturday for a ground-saving trip. Ricardo Santana Jr. rides. Lecomte third-placer Mr. Monomoy, a half-brother to 2018 Kentucky Oaks winner and champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl, is back for Brad Cox. Scabbard, fifth as the Lecomte favorite, and sixth-placer Shashashakemeup will also return in the first division.
Those making their stakes debut in the first division include Blackberry Wine, who registered the top last-out Brisnet Speed rating (95) when capturing an allowance on the Lecomte undercard; Farmington Road, a last-out maiden winner at Gulfstream Park for Todd Pletcher; and Ready to Roll, who romped by 7 1/2 lengths over maiden foes at Oaklawn for Bret Calhoun.
In the second division, Anneau d’Oro has shipped in from Northern California to face 11 foes. An eight-length maiden winner on turf, the son of Medaglia d’Oro recorded an excellent head second when making his second start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. The Blaine Wright trainee exits a neck second in the Dec. 7 Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), and Anneau d’Oro will add blinkers and Joel Rosario for the Risen Star.
Finnick the Fierce will look to improve upon a fourth in the Lecomte after receiving a less-than favorable trip, and trainer Rey Hernandez will remove the blinkers on the confirmed closer. Mailman Money tries stakes competition in good form for Calhoun, rolling to a 5 3/4-length allowance triumph at Fair Grounds on Jan. 12.
Two turns is the big question for Liam’s Lucky Charm, who invades from South Florida off a 5 1/2-length tally in the 7-furlong Pasco at Tampa Bay Downs. Ny Traffic returns to stakes after posting a 6 3/4-length triumph over entry-level allowance rivals at Gulfstream in his first start for Saffie Joseph Jr.
Last-out maiden winners Major Fed, Modernist and Truculent are also part of the second division.