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Stakes Advance: Grade II Risen Star Stakes

@AdolphsonRacing

INTERNATIONAL STAR & IMPERIA TOP STELLAR RISEN STAR

Ten talented sophomores – five locally based and five shipping in – highlight a competitive renewal filled with promising Triple Crown hopefuls of the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Saturday, Feb. 21.  Topped by graded stakes-winning ship-ins International Star and Imperia, the Risen Star goes as the 11th on a 12-race Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford card that features five other stakes.  First post is 12:30 p.m.

Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Mike Maker-trained International Star will look to repeat his winning local performance in the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 17.  A two-time graded stakes winner, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus earned a career-high 90 Beyer Speed Figure in that effort and signaled his readiness with a bullet work on Saturday afternoon at his Gulfstream Park base, going five furlongs in 1:00.20.  Miguel Mena has the return call from the outside post 10.

Left 2½ lengths in International Star’s wake last time and separated by a head in second and third, the locally based duo of Loooch Racing Stables and Chris Dunn’s Tom Amoss-trained War Story and Mike McCarty’s Steve Asmussen-trained Tiznow R J will try to turn the tables on their Florida-based rival.  Both sophomores have been training well locally and have every right to improve.  Kent Desormeaux will be in to ride War Story for the first time from post six.  Robby Albarado and Tiznow R J have once again drawn the same two-post from which they broke in the Lecomte. 

Godolphin Racing’s Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Imperia has had the Risen Star on his radar since ending his juvenile season with a head-loss in the Grade II $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs.  In that effort, the son of Medaglia d’Oro and Chilean Horse of the Year Cocoa Beach earned a field-high 94 Beyer Speed Figure.  As a juvenile, the dark bay Kentucky homebred was an impressive winner of the Grade III $200,000 Pilgrim Stakes on the Belmont Park grass before finishing a troubled 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.  Mike Smith will fly in from California for the mount and the team will break from post five.

An equine shipping in from California will be Altamira Racing Stable and David Bernsen’s Peter Miller-trained St. Joe Bay.  A speedy graded stakes-placed son of Saint Anddan, the Florida-bred was second last out to well-regarded Prospect Park one race after finishing in the superfecta in three consecutive graded stakes.  Locally based rider Florent Geroux picks up the mount from the rail. 

The formidable Dale Romans barn has entered Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice.  A long-striding bay son of Curlin, the graded stakes-placed colt should appreciate Fair Grounds’ longer stretch, as opposed to that of Gulfstream Park where he finished fifth last out in the Grade II $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes.  Keen Ice’s best performance thus far was a third of 13 in the Grade II $400,000 Remsen Stakes one race prior on Nov. 29.  He picks up meet-leading rider James Graham and the two will break from post eight. 

Though they only have a maiden win each, Double Diamond Farm’s Todd Pletcher-trained J S Bach and Fox Hill Farm’s Larry Jones-trained Bluff will likely receive plenty of attention on the toteboard based on recent wins and their lofty connections.  Bluff exits a two-turn local win in which he demolished his rivals and cantered home an easy 5¾-length winner.  Kerwin Clark has the return call from post three.  J S Bach had a similar two-turn romp at Gulfstream Park and receives the riding services of Rafael Bejarano from post four. 

The remainder of the Risen Star field consists of Scott and Evan Dilworth’s Big Big Easy and Gennadi Dorochenko’s Hero of Humor.  Big Big Easy has not started since October for trainer Steve Asmussen, but owns a sharp win over William S. Farish’s Eagle two starts back in a one-mile optional claimer in which he earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure. Hero of Humor was outclassed in the Lecomte when finishing sixth, but returned nine days later to win a mile and 70-yard optional claimer.  Richard Eramia rides Big Big Easy from post nine, while Antioco Murgia rides Hero of Humor from post seven.