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Normandy Invasion 5-2 Favorite in Saturday's Risen Star

By Graham Ross, Staff Writer


NEW ORLEANS (Monday, February 18, 2013) – Fox Hill Farms' Normandy Invasion, who closed out in the opening Kentucky Derby Future Pool this year at 20-1, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite in Saturday's Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.


As Fair Grounds’ designed prep for the 100th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 30, the $400,000 Risen Star is the centerpiece race on Saturday’s six-stakes race program with purses totaling $1,035,000 and billed as Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford.


The Risen Star is part of the elite “Kentucky Derby Championship Series,” which starts Saturday, and is worth 85 points toward qualifying for the Run for the Roses as part of the larger 36-race “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series. With Churchill Downs officials estimating the eligibility threshold at somewhere between 20 and 30 points, the 50 points to be awarded to the Risen Star winner virtually guarantees a berth into the world’s most famous horse race on May 4. The runner-up will earn 20 points, with 10 points to third and five points to fourth.


The Risen Star attracted an overflow field of 15 with one also-eligible.


Trained by Chad Brown, Normandy Invasion will be making his first start as a sophomore in the Risen Star after finishing second by a nose in Aqueduct’s  Grade II Remsen last Nov. 24. Jockey Jose Lezcano will fly in from South Florida to handle the reins astride the son of Tapit.


Pegged as the 5-1 second choice in the Risen Star is Calumet Farm’s Oxbow, who also closed out at 20-1 in the opening Kentucky Derby Future Pool. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Oxbow is already familiar to Fair Grounds fans for his 11 1/2-length romp in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes here Jan. 19. Previously the son of Awesome Again had finished fourth in the Grade I CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park Dec. 15. Jockey Jon Court, aboard for his score in the Lecomte, will return from his Hot Springs base for the ride.


Gary and Mary West’s Code West, a highly regarded son of 1993 Belmont Stakes winner Lemon Drop Kid who broke his maiden last October at Santa Anita and finished second in his only start as a 3-year-old Jan. 31 at that same oval, is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, will be ridden by Martin Garcia and is 6-1 in the early line.


Also at 6-1 is GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm’s Mylute, trained by Tom Amoss and to be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan. He is unraced as a sophomore but was third in Grade III Delta Jackpot last November.


Completing the Risen Star field, with respective jockeys and morning line odds, is Mike McCarty’s Proud Strike, Gary Stevens (8-1);  Dogwood Stable’s Palace Malice, Rosie Napravnik (8-1);  Reddam Racing’s He’s Had Enough, Mario Gutierrez (10-1); Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider’s Departing, Brian Hernandez Jr. (12-1); Brittllyn Stable’s Sunbean, Colby Hernandez (12-1 as the also-eligible); Travis Morgeson III’s Circle Unbroken, Leandro Goncalves (20-1); Charles Fipke’s Golden Soul, Miguel Mena (20-1); Matthew Bryan’s Ive Struck a Nerve,  James Graham (30-1); Kelly Thiesing’s Agent, Richard Eramia (30-1); Farm D’Allie Racing Stable’s Hardrock Eleven, Jamie Theriot (50-1); and Raut LLC’s Bethel, Iram Diego also at 50-1.