Giant Oak, Friesan Fire Top 13 Sophomores in Risen Star
NEW ORLEANS, La. (February 2, 2009) - Virginia Tarra Trust's Giant Oak, runner-up in last fall's Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs, and Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farm's Friesan Fire, who captured the Lecomte Stakes here Jan. 10, lead a field of 13 3-year-olds in the $200,000 Grade III Risen Star Stakes Saturday at Fair Grounds.
The 1 1/16-mile Risen Star will be the ninth race on Saturday's 11-race card, with post time scheduled for 4:29 p.m. CST. The Risen Star is the last of six stakes races worth a total of $750,000 in purses - four of which are Grade III events - that make up the bulk of the Louisiana Derby Preview Day program.
Giant Oak, trained by Chris Block, has been installed as the slight 3-1 morning line choice and will have 2006 Eclipse Award-winning jockey Edgar Prado flying in for the mount, while Friesan Fire, one of two horses in the race conditioned by Larry Jones, has been tabbed as the 7-2 second choice and has regular rider Gabriel Saez slated for the saddle.
Giant Oak, a son of Giant's Causeway, was part of a three-horse photo in the KJC, just behind Beethoven and in front of Capt. Candyman Can, who made his sophomore debut last Friday by winning the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Giant Oak breezed a bullet five furlongs Sunday in 1:00.40.
In the Lecomte, Friesan Fire, a colt by A. P. Indy, took command in upper stretch and drew clear for a 1 1/2-length victory. Friesan Fire worked five-eighths on Monday in 1:04.20.
Giant Oak drew post No. 7 in the field, while Friesan Fire will break just from his inside in post No. 6.
Flying Pegasus, conditioned by Ralph Nicks, is the third choice in the Risen Star morning line at 6-1 but has been away from competition since September, when he finished second by a length, but 2 3/4 lengths in front of Friesan Fire, in the Grade II Futurity at Belmont.
From the rail out with jockeys, the Risen Star field consists of Map of the World, Curt Bourque; Indygo Mountain, Jamie Theriot; Nowhere to Hide, Corey Lanerie; It Happened Again, Terry Thompson; Uno Mas, Brian Hernandez Jr.; Friesan Fire, Saez; Giant Oak, Prado; Dumar, Shaun Bridgmohan; Code of Honour, Randall Toups; Soul Warrior, Pat Valenzuela; Summer's Empire, Jesse Campbell; Flying Pegasus, Robby Albarado; and Au Moon, Julien Leparoux.
Fans of multi-leg wagers will have numerous options to wager on Saturday's card. The Pick 6, usually offered on the final six races of the day, has been moved to cover all six of Saturday's stakes races beginning with Race 4 and ending with the Risen Star. Also, an all-stakes Pick 5 will begin on Race 5, an all-graded stakes Pick 4 starts on Race 6, and a Silverbulletday Stakes-Risen Star double will be offered on Races 8-9.
Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, the nation's third-oldest Thoroughbred racing facility, has been in operation since 1872. Located in New Orleans, Fair Grounds is owned by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ Global Select Market: CHDN); it also operates a slot-machine gaming facility and nine off-track betting parlors throughout southeast Louisiana. Fair Grounds' 137th Thoroughbred season will run from Nov. 14, 2008, through March 29, 2009, and its inaugural Quarter Horse meet was conducted from Aug. 20-24, 2008. Information about Fair Grounds can be found on the Internet at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.