(War of Will won the 2019 Risen Star Stakes / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Fair Grounds Media Team:
On Saturday, February 15, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots will host “Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln”, featuring a pair of key three-year-old stakes — the Grade $400,000 Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln and the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton.
The Risen Star will be run at 1 1/8 miles for the first time. The Rachel Alexandra for the girls received a $100,000 purse bump for this year’s renewal. The race will be contested over 1 1/16 miles.
The first races designated as part of the “Championship Series” portion of the schedule, the top four finishers in the Risen Star and Rachel Alexandra will receive 50-20-10-5 points respectively on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Oaks, with the winner all but assuring themselves a spot in the starting gate.
With Saturday’s draw looming, interest in this year’s Risen Star is high. According to racing secretary Scott Jones, roughly 20 horses are currently on the “possible” list, and there is a distinct chance the race could split into two divisions. According to Jones, were the race to split, the purse of $400,000 and the full available Kentucky Derby points (50-20-10-5), would be offered in each division.
“I would need at least 20 solid candidates,” Jones said of the potential to split the Risen Star into two divisions. “I’m not going to split just for the sake of it.”
Led by race winner Enforceable, the top seven finishers from the Lecomte (G3) could all return for the Risen Star. In addition, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Anneau d’Oro is expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the race.
The 2019 edition of the Risen Star (G2) proved to be a very key race. Five of the 14 participants went on to become Grade I winners, and two others won multiple Grade III events and were Grade I placed.
Winner — War of Will won the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico.
Runner-up — Country House was the adjudicated winner of the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs.
4th — Hog Creek Hustle won the Woody Stevens (G1) at Belmont.
7th — Mr. Money rattled off four consecutive Grade III victories prior to finishing second in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) at Parx.
8th – Owendale won a trio of Grade III races and also finished third in the Preakness (G1).
10th — Henley’s Joy won the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) on turf.
13th – Plus Que Parfait won the UAE Derby (G1) at Meydan.
Led by race winner Finite, the top five finishers from the Silverbulletday are expected to contest the Rachel Alexandra (G2). Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G3) winner and Eclipse Award 2-year-old Filly Champion British Idiom is expected to make her sophomore debut in the race.
The last two years, the Rachel Alexandra has produced the top two finishers in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). In 2018 it was the winner Monomoy Girl and third place finisher Wonder Gadot comprising the Kentucky Oaks exacta, and last year Serengeti Empress and Liora were 1-2 in both races. In 2014, Untapable completed the Rachel Alexandra/Kentucky Oaks double.
Fourth in last year’s Rachel Alexandra, Street Band would later win the Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), the Indiana Oaks (G3) at Indiana Grand and the Cotillion (G1) at Parx.
Four stakes for older horses will also be presented on the February 15 “Louisiana Derby Preview Day” program (post time will be at noon CT).
• The $200,000 Mineshaft Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles, led by multiple graded stakes winner Silver Dust.
• The $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) at nine furlongs on turf, featuring two-time defending champion Synchrony.
• The $100,000 Colonel Power Stakes at 5½ furlongs on turf, where Blind Ambition and Chaos Theory could via for favoritism in a contentious race.
• The $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on turf, featuring Zofelle, Quebec and Notapradaprice, all stakes winners at the current Fair Grounds stand.