Lecomte winner Vicar's in Trouble is expected to break from post 13 in Saturday's $400,000 Risen Star at Fair Grounds following the reported defection of Grade 1 winner Bond Holder from the 1 1/16-mile race.
Trainer Doug O'Neill reported on his Facebook page Wednesday that Bond Holder would be scratched "due to the effects of his having a tough flight going to Louisiana" and that the colt would now target the March 8 San Felipe at Santa Anita. Bond Holder drew post 5 and Vicar's in Trouble post 14 when Risen Star entries were taken Monday, but now Vicar's in Trouble will move one spot in, barring any additional late withdrawals.
"I'd much rather have that (14) than the one-hole," said Joe Sharp, assistant to trainer Mike Maker, on Wednesday morning prior to the news of Bond Holder's intended scratching. "The outside post shouldn't bother him. He's not a horse that has ever had any issues in the gate. We've never had any gate problems with him.
"If (Vicar) can make the lead from out there with enough room to get over more toward the inside that will be fine, but if he can't he really doesn't need the lead. He's been behind horses in the morning and it doesn't bother him. He's not going to come off the bridle. It's not going to hurt his feelings if he doesn't have the lead. That's why we like to work him in company. He seems to get a little more out of it. He doesn't need the lead right away, but I would think he'll get it soon enough. He's not a 'waiting-around' kind of guy."
It should also be noted that Vicar's in Trouble didn't have the lead in the first half-mile of the Lecomte. That distinction fell to Roman Unbridled before that horse weakened to fourth at the wire.
"I can't say I was surprised when he ran as well as he did in the Lecomte, but I was very impressed," Sharp said. "Obviously, there were some very nice horses in there against him. You had to have a lot of respect for Steve's horse (Steve Asmussen-trained Gold Hawk) and Larry's horse (Larry Jones-trained Albano), so I was impressed that our horse could do as well as he did against them."
One thing one can say about Vicar's in Trouble as of Wednesday morning is that he's very high-spirited. When Sharp guided some visitors to Vicar's stall, the Lecomte winner made some serious attempts to bite his caretaker before settling down to have his face stroked and his nose kissed.
"He just acted like that at first because I've been playing with him," Sharp said. "He just thought I came down here to mess with him again."