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Risen Star Stakes Preview

The Risen Star Stakes is a Grade 2 event for three-year-olds run at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana. The 2019 edition has attracted an overflow field of 15 led by War of Will (#14) (5-2), who was the last-out winner of the Lecomte Stakes (G3) over the same surface.

The 1 116-mile Risen Star is the first Championship Series race on the Kentucky Derby trail offering 50-20-10-5 points to the top-four finishers. The winner will secure a spot in the starting gate for the May 4 Kentucky Derby. The Risen Star was upgraded to Grade 2 in 2010 and currently carries a $400,000 purse.

War of Will has two wins in six starts, including his Lecomte victory, a second in last year’s Summer Stakes (G1) at Woodbine in Canada and a fifth in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) at Churchill Downs in November. He has the most speed, blowing away the large field in the Lecomte, and has posted a very strong four-furlong work while remaining at Fair Grounds. A good break towards the front will make him tough to beat, as War of Will also has good tactical speed and upward mobility.

Owendale (#8) (6-1) makes his third start of the year here for trainer Brad Cox off a big win. He has nice tactical speed and should settle behind War of Will. Hog Creek Hustle (#6) (8-1) is best in sprints and was a well-beaten closing second behind War of Will in the Lecomte.

Mr. Money (#3) (12-1) outran his 41-1 odds in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) to finish fourth. Trainer Brett Calhoun has him improving with a pair of bullet works leading into the Risen Star. Manny Wah (#7) (12-1) is likely better at shorter distances but did show speed in the Lecomte, finishing third after stalking the leader. Henley’s Joy (#5) (10-1) is a talented three-year-old but is better for turf.

Plus Que Parfait (#1) (10-1) breaks from the rail and finished fifth in the Lecomte after stumbling from the gate as the second choice behind War of Will. Roiland (#2) (20-1) is a one-run closer but there are better in this race. Limonite (#10) (10-1) makes his first start in 2 12 months and has some of the lowest BRIS Speed figures in the field. Improvement is expected, however, and Limonite has been training steadily at Fair Grounds. He has a good route pedigree as the son of Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Lemon Drop Kid.

Frolic More (#12) (10-1) has a midpack running style for trainer Dallas Stewart and finished second behind Owendale last out in a allowance/optional claimer. Longshot Chase the Ghost (#4) (30-1) is also conditioned by Dallas Stewart and earned a career-best 86 BRIS speed figure in the Lecomte finishing sixth. Country House (#9) (20-1) moves up in class in his fourth start for trainer Bill Mott after a strong closing victory in a maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park. Dunph (#11) (20-1) was third in the Springboard Mile in December. Gun It (#15) (10-1) is the also-eligible and will run after Kingly (#13) (12-1) scratched in favor of the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Gun It is supremely-bred with upside but lacks stakes experience.

Bravazo won the 2018 Risen Star and then ran in all three Triple Crown races, with his best finish coming as a second in the Preakness Stakes (G1). As a major prep for the Louisiana Derby (G2), the Risen Star is one to watch as 13 horses have won both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby, including Girvin (2017), Gun Runner (2016), International Star (2015), Friesian Fire (2009) and Pyro (2008) most recently.

Risen Star was a son of Secretariat who won the 1988 race, then called the Louisiana Derby Trial, and had it renamed in his honor. He earned the 1988 Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old colt after finishing third in the Kentucky Derby and winning both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

The Risen Star Stakes is Race 12 and one of six stakes races at Fair Grounds on Saturday, February 16. Post time for the Risen Star is 7:02 (ET).