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Contact: Michael Adolphson, Staff Writer/Media Specialist, 504.948.1255,Michael.Adolphson@fgno.com




NEW ORLEANS (February 13, 2016) – John C. Oxley’s expected favorite Airforce invades New Orleans to take on the local contingency – led by G M B Racing’s Mo Tom – in the Grade II $400,000 Veterans Ford Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 20 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. At 1 1/16 miles on the main track, the Risen Star drew 13 3-year-olds and has been won in the past by the likes of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, champion Lawyer Ron and recently deceased top sire Exchange Rate. The Risen Star is worth a total of 85 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 50-20-10-5 basis.


Trained by Mark Casse, Airoforce was a graded stakes winner on both turf and dirt during his juvenile campaign, with his only loss coming by a neck in the Grade I $1,000,000 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf on Oct. 30 at Keeneland. To cap his juvenile campaign, he was a smart winner of the Grade II $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs over a sloppy surface, defeating Mo Tom into third. Regular rider Julien Leparoux will ride from post 10 in the son of Colonel John’s sophomore bow.


Mo Tom kicked off his 3-year-old season in style with a 2¼-length win in the local Grade III $200,000 TwinSpires.com Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 20. Defeating fellow G M B Racing-owned Tom’s Ready in the process, he won his second stakes in his five-race career. Perennial leading trainer Tom Amoss will seek his first victory in the Risen Star when the son of red-hot sire Uncle Mo breaks from post two under regular pilot Corey Lanerie.


Tom’s Ready, trained by Dallas Stewart, will try to turn the tables on his stablemate and deflate Airoforce when the son of More Than Ready breaks from post eight under Hall of Famer John Velazquez, who will ride the dark bay for the first time since finishing fourth on debut Aug. 15. Briefly in front at the top of the lane in the Lecomte, he ran gamely in defeat while finishing well, three-quarters of a length in front of Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s Mike Maker-trained Uncle Walter, who also returns for more when he breaks from post 12 under Javier Castellano.


Two graded stakes also-rans who must be respected in this spot are Treadway Racing Stable’s Leah Gyarmati-trained In Equality, who shipped in from New York and worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 over the local surface on Feb. 13, and Winchell Thoroughbreds and Three Chimneys Farm’s Steve Asmussen-trained Gun Runner. In Equality, a game son of Quality Road, was third last out in the Grade III $150,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on Jan. 2 and will break from the rail under Junior Alvarado. Gun Runner, a good-looking Candy Ride colt, has been working extremely well – including two consecutive six-furlong moves in 1:12 and change – over the local surface and will make his sophomore bow after finishing fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club last out. Leading rider Florent Geroux picks up the mount from post six.


The remainder of the field for the 43rd running of the Risen Star is comprised of Dolphus (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post three), Bistraya (Edwin Maldonado, post four), Forevamo (Colby Hernandez, post five), Its All Relevant (Joe Bravo, post seven), Laoban (Miguel Mena, post nine), Zapperini (Francisco Torres, post 11) and Candy My Boy (Shaun Bridgmohan, post 13).