BY: JOSHUA PRAIN
Don’t look now but we’re just 79 days away from the 2019 Kentucky Derby and that means the stakes are rising! Saturday’s Grade 3 Risen Star will be the first Kentucky Derby prep race of the year to offer 50 points to the winner, which we all know basically guarantees a spot in the gate come May. This year’s Risen Star has drawn a full field of 14 with an additional horse on the Also Eligible list. LeComte winner War of Will is the no doubt about it favorite, but he’s up against it after drawing the extreme outside. Bob Baffert’s has announced Kingly will scratch so Gun It should draw in.
The Risen Star hasn’t produced much as far as the Kentucky Derby goes, with War Emblem (9th 2002 Risen Star) being its only graduate to go on to Derby glory. The race has however, seen two future Breeders’ Cup Classic winners come through its gate. Gun Runner took the 2016 edition and Mucho Macho Man was victorious in 2011. Perhaps there are a couple future stars in this year’s field.
|Race 12 – Risen Star Stakes (G2) Post Time – 6:02 PM|
|Purse $400,000. For Three-Year Olds. One and One Sixteenth Miles.|
|1||Plus Que Parfait (KY)||3/R||L||J R Leparoux||122||B P Walsh||10/1|
|2||Roiland (KY)||3/C||L||J Graham||122||T M Amoss||20/1|
|3||Mr. Money (KY)||3/C||L||G Saez||122||W B Calhoun||12/1|
|4||Chase the Ghost (KY)||3/C||L||M Murrill||122||D Stewart||30/1|
|5||Henley’s Joy (KY)||3/C||L||M Franco||122||M J Maker||10/1|
|6||Hog Creek Hustle (KY)||3/C||L||F Geroux||122||V L Foley||8/1|
|7||Manny Wah (KY)||3/C||L||C Hill||122||W M Catalano||12/1|
|8||Owendale (KY)||3/C||L||S Bridgmohan||122||B H Cox||6/1|
|9||Country House (KY)||3/C||L||L Saez||122||W I Mott||20/1|
|10||Limonite (KY)||3/C||L||B J Hernandez, Jr.||122||S M Asmussen||10/1|
|11||Dunph (KY)||3/G||L||J L Ortiz||122||M J Maker||20/1|
|12||Frolic More (KY)||3/C||L||C J Lanerie||122||D Stewart||10/1|
|13||Kingly (KY)||3/C||L||D Van Dyke||122||B Baffert||SCR|
|14||War of Will (KY)||3/C||L||T Gaffalione||122||M E Casse||5/2|
|15||Gun It (KY)||3/C||L||R Santana, Jr.||122||S M Asmussen||10/1|
If you can connect in this race you are likely to be handsomely rewarded. I plan to be rewarded with my top play in here which is the #9 Country House who is 20/1 on the morning-line, but I do expect he will take some money. This son of Lookin At Lucky debuted on the grass at Belmont back in October and has made steady improvement in each of his last two starts since. I feel if he’s able to take another step forward he will be very dangerous in here. He was a close 2nd two back at Aqueduct to Kentucky Wildcat who ran 2nd himself in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis last weekend. The Bill Mott trainee then broke his maiden at Gulfstream last out after absolutely missing the break and spotting the field at least eight or nine lengths. I’m not sure he beat much in his last outing, but I was very impressed with the way he did it. Let’s hope he’s better out of the gate this time around and make some money! Luis Saez retains the mount.
I just can’t bring myself to put #14 War of Will on top here at such a short price. I think this horse could be a star, but he’s going to have to break well and establish solid early positioning in order to win. We’ll see what kind of trip Tyler Gaffalione can work out aboard the Grade 3 LeComte winner. I’ll still plan on using on my horizontal plays, but there is better value to be had in this big field.
I thought the Brendan Walsh trained #1 Plus Que Parfait ran a pretty good race last out after stumbling slightly at the break and then getting caught wide into the first turn of the Grade 3 LeComte. The son of Point of Entry seems to enjoy this distance and I would expect Julien Leparoux will have him more forwardly placed breaking from the rail. Strictly using on my vertical tickets.
#3 Mr. Money makes his first start since finishing 4th in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile back in November. He was slated to run in last month’s Grade 3 LeComte, but his connections decided to scratch. I like the recent works from this son of Goldencents and I think the time off should do him good. Will probably need a career best outing to win here. Gabe Saez rides for Bret Calhoun who just got his 3,000th training victory this past Sunday.
Another horse I want to add in on my vertical play’s is #15 Gun It who is a well-bred son of Tapit and the first foal out of Miss Besilu. The Steve Asmussen trainee is a former $2.6 million Keeneland September Yearling purchase that has yet to prove his worth. He broke his maiden over this track back in December and returned to run 3rd in an allowance contest last month over a wet track. I’m willing to forgive his last outing as he never looked completely comfortable and did not seem to love the track that day.
#9 Country House
$5 Exacta Box
9,14 = $10
$1 Trifecta Keys
9 w 1,3,14,15 w 1,3,14,15 = $12
1,3,14,15 w 9 w 1,3,14,15 = $12
1,3,14,15 w 1,3,14,15 w 9 = $12
Bonus Play: $200,000 Guaranteed All Stakes Pick 4 (Races 9-12)
2,5,6 w 5,6,7,9 w 4,8 w 9,14 = $24
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