(Mandaloun figures to see familiar rivals in G2 Louisiana Derby / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the Fair Grounds Media Team:

A lot of calendars on the backstretch at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots have March 20 circled. According to their respective connections, the top three finishers from this past Saturday’s Risen Star (G2) presented by Larmarque Ford-Lincoln and Rachel Alexandra (G2), presented by Fasig-Tipton, are all likely to renew acquaintances on March 20 in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) and Twinspires.com Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). The $1 million Derby and $400,000 Oaks highlight a card that has eight stakes—four of them graded—worth a total of $2.425 million.

Juddmonte Farms’ Mandaloun won the Risen Star by 1 ¼ lengths and the 50 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) qualifying points that went with it for trainer Brad Cox, beating Proxy (20 points) and Midnight Bourbon (10). The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief added blinkers and rebounded from a third-place finish in the local January 16 Lecomte (G3) and stamped himself as one of the horses to beat not only for the local 1 3/16-mile Derby, but the one going 1 ¼ miles May 1 at Churchill Downs as well.

“The logical spot would be back here at the Fair Grounds on the 20th of March,” Cox said. “We have not confirmed that, but we’ll let the horse tell us over the next few weeks. I thought he really stepped up and showed he can get the mile and an eighth and beyond. I feel like he’s a horse who is moving forward in every start and hopefully the best is yet to come.”

Godolphin’s homebred Proxy once again ran big in defeat for trainer Mike Stidham and the son of Tapit showed his second in the Lecomte was no fluke, while Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Midnight Bourbon, a son of Tiznow, settled for third in the Risen Star after winning the Lecomte for trainer Steve Asmussen. Both camps indicated their colts came out of the Risen Star in good order and are likely to be pointed to the Louisiana Derby.

A race earlier in the Rachel Alexandra, Stonestreet Stables’ homebred Clairiere turned the tables on OXO Equine’s even-money favorite Travel Column, beating her by a neck after running second to her in Churchill’s November 28 Golden Rod (G2). The former, a daughter of Curlin trainer by Asmussen, and the latter, a daughter of Frosted trained by Cox, are penciled in to renew their budding rivalry in the local Oaks. Clairiere earned 50 qualifying points for the April 30 Longines Kentucky Oaks, while Travel Column earned 20.

Brad King, Jim Cone, Scott Bryant, and Stan and Suzanne Kirby’s Moon Swag, a daughter of Malibu Moon, was third in the Rachel Alexandra and earned 10 Oaks qualifying points, and is also likely to move on to the Oaks, according to trainer Brandan Walsh.

Godolphin’s homebred and older handicap star Maxfield remained undefeated in five career starts with another dominant win in the $200,000 Mineshaft (G3) on the Risen Star undercard. The 4-year-old son of Street Sense won his second start of the meet for trainer Brendan Walsh, to go with the December 19 Tenacious, and could be in line for a big step up in class for his next start. Maxfield has had a stop and start career for Walsh but has been able to string races together for the first time since his 2-year-old year, which could prompt his connections to take a look at the $12 million Dubai World Cup (G1) at Meydan on March 27.

“He’s fresh and the race didn’t take much out of him at all,” Walsh said. “There’s a lot of thoughts going on in my mind and I’ll talk to the guys at Godolphin and we’ll go from there.”