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Giant Oak Gets Bullet Breeze Sunday for Saturday's Risen Star

Headlines for Sunday, February 01, 2009

  • Giant Oak Gets Bullet Breeze Sunday for Saturday's Risen Star
  • Au Moon Breezes Five Furlongs in Company Sunday Morning
  • Risen Star Field Looking Like Rapidly Expanding Universe
  • Native Louisiana Jockey Kirk LeBlanc Reaches 3,000-Win Milestone


Giant Oak Gets Bullet Breeze Sunday for Saturday's Risen Star

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Virginia Tarra Trust's Giant Oak, one of the leading candidates for Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:00.40 here Sunday morning.

The chestnut son of Giant's Causeway trained by Chris Block was second by a neck in Churchill's Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in his last start Nov. 29.  Jockey James Graham was aboard for Sunday's move, but Edgar Prado is slated to come to Fair Grounds to ride Giant Oak in the Risen Star.

"The work went well," said Block shortly after the move, which was the fastest of 39 at the distance.  "It was really what I was kind of hoping for - a nice easy five-eighths.  He bumped it up a little during the last part of it and he finished up good.  It was probably the best work he's ever given me when he was by himself.

"Even though Edgar's coming in to ride him Saturday, James has just been a jewel every time he's worked Giant Oak," Block said.  "He (Graham) has communicated with us very well after each work, and I'm very happy he's helping us out with this horse.  We're happy to have Edgar lined up Saturday, but if anything happens to that, James would be our go-to guy."


Au Moon Breezes Five Furlongs in Company Sunday Morning

Tim Brown and Phil Gahm's Au Moon breezed five furlongs in 1:03.40 Sunday morning in preparation for the Risen Star.

Conditioned by David Carroll, Au Moon was third, beaten four lengths, in the $100,000 Grade III Lecomte Stakes Jan. 10 in his most recent trip to the post.

 "We let him relax behind a couple of other horses," explained Carroll of the morning's strategy, "and then we let him pick it up the last eighth.  I was very pleased with his move, and after the work he cooled out great. We'd like to see him forwardly placed in the race Saturday, but we don't want him wasting his energy on the front end.  The whole idea is to teach him to relax."


Risen Star Field Looking Like Rapidly Expanding Universe

A likely field of a dozen - with a Baker's dozen still a possibility - was the latest update as of Sunday afternoon for the Risen Star Stakes.

Expected to vie for favoritism in this weekend's final major prep for the Grade II $600,000 Louisiana Derby March 14 are Lecomte winner Friesan Fire and Giant Oak.

 Also remaining on track for the Risen Star are Au Moon, third in the Lecomte, as well as Uno Mas and Indygo Mountain, fourth and sixth respectively in that same test.

Brereton Jones' It Happened Again, a two-length winner of the $50,000 Triple Sec Stakes Jan. 16 at Delta Downs, is slated to join Friesan Fire as a Larry Jones-trained starter in the Risen Star.

Richard Otto Stables Inc.'s Summer's Empire, who captured Hawthorne's restricted $100,000 Jim Edgar Futurity in his last start Dec. 13, remains probable for the Risen Star after breezing five furlongs in 1:01.60 at Fair Grounds last Wednesday.

Zayat Stables' Soul Warrior, who broke his maiden by 3 3/4-lengths at Fair Grounds Dec. 29 and breezed a bullet three-quarters in 1:14.40 at Fair Grounds last Tuesday, remains slated to join Uno Mas as a Steve Asmussen trainee in the Risen Star.

The William Don Bennett-trained Code of Honour, third in the Triple Sec, is also still on tap for Saturday's main event.

 At least three candidates were added to the mix for the Risen Star on Sunday morning: Flying Pegasus, who finished 2 3/4 lengths in front of Friesan Fire in Belmont's Grade II Futurity last September in his most recent start; Nowhere to Hide, a maiden winner in his last start who is conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, and Dumar, a first-level allowance winner at Fair Grounds last month who hails from the Asmussen barn.

Brother Keith, conditioned by Bobby Frankel, another Hall of Fame trainer, was being considered briefly as a late addition to the Risen Star Sunday before the field expanded, but is now considered unlikely.


Native Louisiana Jockey Kirk LeBlanc Reaches 3,000-Win Milestone

Jockey Kirk LeBlanc, 40, a Louisiana native and former regular member of the Fair Grounds jockey colony, rode his 3,000th career winner Saturday night aboard Dazzling N Red in the 10th race at Delta Downs.

 The milestone win completed a riding triple for LeBlanc at the western Louisiana oval.

  LeBlanc recorded more than a quarter of his career win total at Fair Grounds. He claimed three of his 771 wins in New Orleans as part of the 2001 edition of Louisiana Champions Day.