Discreetly Mine Gate to Wire in Grade II Risen Star

Paul Robsham Stables’ Discreetly Mine took advantage of an unexpectedly soft pace and led gate to wire while winning Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes by 1 ½-lengths at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in New Orleans.

The $300,000 Risen Star is the second in Fair Grounds’ three-race “Road to the Derby” series for 3-year-olds which culminates with the March 27 Grade II Louisiana Derby, five weeks prior to the May 1 Kentucky Derby.

Discreetly Mine moved clear early under jockey Javier Castellano, aboard for the first time, through fractions of 24.60, 48.75, 1:13.44 and 1:38.17, before repelling a bid from runner-up Gainesway Stable’s Tempted to Tapit in upper stretch and kicking clear to finish the 1 1/16-mile test in 1:44.88.

“This horse gives one-hundred-and-ten-percent every time he runs,” said Ginny DePasquale, assistant to winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who remained at Gulfstream Park in Florida for today’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes, which he won with Eskendereya. “We’re very pleased with the outcome of this race.”

It was the second win of the day for Pletcher and Castellano, who also teamed up to win the Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap with Blues Street one race prior.

“I’m so blessed,” Castellano said after his first win in the Risen Star. “I expected him to be in the lead. He broke well out of the gate and he looked happy galloping along. We got a position, relaxed, made a move on the backstretch and just continued to the wire.”

The first three horses through the opening quarter-mile held their places in line all the way to the end, with Tempted to Tapit checking in a neck in front of Westrock Stables’ Northern Giant.

“My horse didn’t break too fast, which is kind of his style,” said David Cohen, rider of Tempted to Tapit. “I was behind horses in the first turn and then got him outside and he seemed to relax very well. We were going a pretty easy pace and he ran good. He finished very strong and held off those other challengers for second.”

Behind Northern Giant it was a neck back to favored Drosselmeyer, who made a mild rally in the stretch but could not catch the early leaders. “It was just a slow pace,” said his rider, Kent Desormeaux. “He was trying hard at the end and we just couldn’t catch up.”

The order of finish was completed by Stay Put, Ron the Greek, Worldly, Letsgetitonmon, Mountain Justice, Hotep, Random Move and Bravo Whiskey.

The soft pace was a popular subject in post-race conversations with many of the participants, especially the connections of confirmed closers who were at a disadvantage because of it, such as Ron the Greek, who will likely come back in the Louisiana Derby despite today’s sixth-place finish.

“The pace was so slow,” said jockey James Graham of last month’s Grade III Lecomte winner. “A little speed in the next one will definitely help.”

The top three finishers in the Risen Star could have the $25,000 starting fee for the Kentucky Derby waived if they come out of the gate in the Louisiana Derby.

Discreetly Mine’s win was his first of the year, coming off a fourth in Gulfstream’s Spectacular Bid. With his second lifetime victory, the Mineshaft colt raised his career earnings to $359,350. He already was well ahead of the curve in terms of graded stakes earnings needed to secure a place in the Kentucky Derby after placing in two graded events at Belmont Park as a juvenile and now has that slot secured.

Discreetly Mine paid $7, $4.20 and $3.80 as the 2.5-1 second choice. Tempted to Tapit paid $8 and $6 while Northern Giant returned $14.60.

The Road to the Derby at Fair Grounds concludes with the March 27 Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby, part of a six-stakes extravaganza on the penultimate day of this 138th Thoroughbred Racing Season Presented by Miller Lite.  

Full Stakes Quotes-Race 10-Grade II, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes
3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, 37th running

Jockey Javier Castellano (Discreetly Mine, winner): “I’m so blessed. I expected him to be in the lead. He broke well out of the gate and he looked happy galloping along. I appreciate the opportunity for the chance to ride him back.

“I’m very satisfied with the way the race developed; this course tends to favor those that come from behind. We got a position, relaxed, made a move on the backstretch and just continued to the wire.

“I’m very satisfied the way he did it today. He broke well out of the gate. He’s a speed horse and the fractions he did today were very lovely. He just galloped along in the lead and I’m very happy.

Is it more difficult when you’re on a horse for the first time? “I’m very fortunate to have been on some good horses—Ghostzapper, Bellamy Road, Bernardini—and I’ve been getting on the horse in the morning so I know him well enough.

“Today he hooked up with some really good horses and ran a really good race. I’m very happy.”

Will you be back with this horse for the March 27 Louisiana Derby? “Hopefully. I said to Todd Pletcher whatever he wants to do with this horse I want to be on it. I’m the pilot and wherever they want to send me I’ll be available.”

Assistant Trainer Ginny DePasquale (Discreetly Mine, winner): “This horse gives 110-percent every time he runs. We’re very pleased with the outcome of this race.”

Jockey David Cohen (Tempted to Tapit, second): “My horse didn’t break too fast, which is kind of his style. I was behind horses in the first time and then got him outside and he seemed to relax very well. We were going a pretty easy pace and he ran good. He finished very strong and held of those other challengers for second.”

Jockey Kent Desormeaux (Drosselmeyer, fourth): “It was just a slow pace. He was trying hard at the end and we just couldn’t catch up. It was very encouraging the way he galloped out. He has a good turn of foot and I’m very pleased.”

James Graham (Ron the Greek, sixth): “The pace was so slow. A little speed in the next one will definitely help.”