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Top Three from Lecomte Face South Florida Invader El Padrino in Saturday's Risen Star

Let’s Go Stable’s El Padrino, who closed out in the opening Kentucky Derby Future Pool this year at 16-1, has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite in Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

As Fair Grounds’ designed prep for the $1 million Louisiana Derby on April 1, the $300,000 Risen Star is the centerpiece race on Saturday’s six-stakes race program worth $885,000 and billed as Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, El Padrino won an allowance at Gulfstream by two lengths on Jan. 29 in his only start as a sophomore after finishing third, beaten less than a length for the win, in Aqueduct’s Grade II Remsen Stakes last fall in New York.

Red-hot reinsman Javier Castellano will fly to New Orleans from South Florida to ride El Padrino in the Risen Star. As a son of Pulpit out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, El Padrino worked a half-mile in 48.80 at South Florida’s Palm Meadows training center Sunday morning and is expected to arrive in New Orleans mid-week.

Capable of providing strong competition for El Padrino is the Brereton Jones-owned and Larry Jones-trained entry of Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Stakes winner Mr. Bowling as well as his stablemate Mark Valeski, who have been pegged as the 4-1 second choice for Saturday’s Risen Star.

Mr. Bowling, who dug in to find a second gear in the late stages of the Lecomte to win by a head while coming off a three-month layoff, will be ridden once again by seven-time Fair Grounds jockey champion Robby Albarado in the Risen Star. The homebred son of Istan was third in his previous outing in Churchill Downs’ Grade III Iroquois Stakes last Oct. 30 but had won the $75,000 Dover Stakes at Delaware Park before that. The colt worked five furlongs in 59.80 Monday morning at Fair Grounds.

Entry mate Mark Valeski won his seasonal bow by a length in the allowance ranks at Fair Grounds on Jan. 13 and had closed out his juvenile campaign last Sept. 22 by breaking his maiden with a 4 1/2-length tally at Delaware Park. The son of Proud Citizen breezed five-eighths Monday morning at Fair Grounds in 1:00.20. Defending Fair Grounds jockey champion and current leading rider Rosie Napravnik will ride Mark Valeski.

Zayat Stables’ Z Dager, runner-up in the Lecomte, is the third choice in the Risen Star morning line at 5-1 and breezed a half-mile in 50.60 at Fair Grounds Monday morning. The Mizzen Mast colt is trained by Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Shane Sellers in the Risen Star. Out of a Wavering Monarch mare, Z Dager broke his maiden by 1 1/4 lengths locally on Dec. 15. 

Jerry Namy’s Shared Property, 6-1 in the early Risen Star line, was third in the Lecomte and won Chicago’s Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity last September. Regular rider Leandro Goncalves will be aboard the Tom Amoss trainee once again this weekend.

Completing the Risen Star field, with respective riders, trainers and odd, is Bluegrass Hall’s Optimizer, Carlos Marquez Jr., D. Wayne Lukas (6-1); Jim Tafel’s Afford, Shane Sellers, Greg Geier (8-1); George and Tiffany Veloudis’s Tizanexpense, Miguel Mena, Mike Maker (10-1); Steve Martin’s Ted’s Folly, Ramsey Zimmerman, Wilson Brown (20-1) and the Raut LLC-owned Gennadi Dorochenko-conditioned coupling of Hero of Order and Adena’s Chance, to be ridden respectively by James Graham and Richard Eramia while pegged at 30-1 in the Risen Star morning line.