Instilled Regard will be the one to beat as point values increase for Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds. As the first of 16 races in the Championship Series of the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying process, the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star awards a total of 85 points to the top four finishers (50-20-10-5 scale) and Instilled Regard has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite among 10 runners.
His Hall of Fame connections – trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and jockey Javier Castellano – are still seeking their first Kentucky Derby victory and California-based Instilled Regard delivered a magnificent performance when shipping to the New Orleans oval for the Lecomte (G3) four weeks earlier, rolling home to a facile 3 ¾-length victory. That performance followed a troubled runner-up effort in his stakes bow, the December 9 Los Alamitos Futurity (G1).
A dark bay son of Arch, Instilled Regard will break from post 5.
Lecomte runner-up Principe Guilherme will seek a measure of revenge after sustaining his initial defeat. An impressive winner in the first two outings, including an 11-length triumph over allowance rivals locally, the Tapit colt experienced a rough trip after breaking from post 10 last time but kept fighting the entire way, gamely getting up for second in the final strides. The Steve Asmussen pupil is listed as the 7-2 second choice but must break from an outside post (9) once again with regular rider Florent Geroux.
Asmussen will also send out Snapper Sinclair, who promises to show speed once again after being nailed late by his stablemate in a respectable Lecomte third. Adam Beschizza, a hot-riding newcomer to the Fair Grounds’ jockey colony this season, will ride the early 8-1 shot.
Todd Pletcher could play a prominent role in the outcome with Noble Indy, who has been pegged as the 5-1 third choice in his stakes debut. The son of Take Charge Indy has made two starts at Gulfstream, streaking to an 8 ¾-length maiden score and recording a nice win in a two-turn allowance. The speedy colt breaks from post 2 with John Velazquez.
Other contestants include unbeaten Supreme Aura, who brings a 2-for-2 mark into his first stakes attempt; Grade 1 juvenile runner-up Bravazo, who exits an allowance win at Oaklawn for D. Wayne Lukas; High North, a rallying fourth when last seen in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2); and multiple stakes-placed Givemeaminit.
The Risen Star is the second of three qualifiers at Fair Grounds, with the $1 million TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 24.