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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Keeping Up with the Jones’ Tough in Risen Star

2/23/2012

By Greg “The Commish” Johnson
The Downey Profile
Posted March 23, 2011 @ 11:59 a.m. ET


It’s one of the great race days of the early Kentucky Derby Trail season at Fair Grounds, headlined by a fine edition of the Grade II Risen Star Stakes.

The mega-hyped El Padrino and a formidable pair from Larry Jones' stable look very much like they’ll both have something to say from gate to wire.

There is little to no early pace in this fray. Hero of Order looks to be the early speed from his run in the Grade III Lecomte last month, when he faded in the late going. With more than a couple likely to breath down his neck early, I don’t see him a factor much beyond the far turn.

Tizanexpense may need to move early from his far outside post, but his last two races were considerably slower than most of the others, and he may be a pace casualty as a result.

The Larry Jones-trained Mark Valeski looks to be the one to get a good early position stalking that speed, such as it is, and he may take over before the far turn, with Z Dager right at his flank ready to get this party started.

At that point, I’m looking to see if Mark Valeski will kick it into another gear. The question will be: Did Hero of Order provide a fast enough pace for stalkers and closers.

El Padrino, shipped to New Orleans from South Florida by Todd Pletcher, looms large as a big favorite off his ultra-impressive 2012 debut, earning a 100 Beyer Speed Figure (BSF) going a mile and a sixteenth. But was it a little too good?

Many a time have youngsters such as this popped a career best BSF in their first race back from a layoff, 20+ points higher than anything before, and what do they do for an encore? Historically, bounce city.

According to Pletcher, he decided not to run El Padrino in the Lecomte because he was one work away from being ready. He had his work, and boy, was he ready. While everyone and their mother handicapper dot com will have this guy as right on top, I’m leaning elsewhere but will keep him in the exotics for obvious reasons.

So where were we? Oh yes, somewhere around the top of the stretch, Mr. Valeski is saying come and catch me and is trying to put away Z Dager. He is a tough customer to toss, no question, but he’s been a bit lazy in the mornings in prep for this, and you can't bet them all.

For whatever reason this year, in my constant search my Derby horse, I sure have been hearing the goods on Mr. Bowling, the gutsy Lecomte winner. The usually modest Larry Jones has been downright confident about this horse getting BETTER, and I think he means REALLY better. That :59.80 five furlong, fastest of 64 bullet on Monday certainly backs up Mr. Jones’ confidence. I think this guy has a big future and may be tough to deny right back -- if he can get by his stable mate. They are a coupled betting interest, both owned and bred by Brereton Jones.

Optimizer hasn’t dodged anyone since breaking his maiden at Saratoga last August. Three straight impressive outings by this son of the brilliant English Channel, on turf and polytrack, had him looking like the real deal, but his dirt efforts, albeit with some trouble, haven’t fared all so well. Be careful just tossing the class of any race, though. For example the three that made up the trifecta for fun in last Saturday's El Camino Real Derby.

Speaking of class, another one that hasn’t dodged anyone is Shared Property. Note the trouble line in the Lecomte, and without it, he’s your winner. He again draws an outside post for this, and he may likely drop far back entering the first turn. He’ll need to pick it up down the backstretch to stay in striking distance, and if he gets to rolling late without the trouble, he may very well win it.

Ted's Folly was sure on a roll until a lackluster showing in the Lecomte -- after reeling off six straight in Oklahoma coming from the clouds. He needs a pretty quick pace to be effective.

If there’s a sleeper in here, Afford may fit the bill.  His stakes debut in the Sugar Bowl wasn’t all bad, finishing third, but this son of Street Sense needs more room to rumble then just six furlongs. His second race over this surface saw him taking the overland route but still getting up with what looked to be a lot left in the tank. He boasts a solid work in prep for this, and a clean trip along the inside could see this guy make a splash at a good price in the exotics, and then some.

PICKS FROM THE COMMISH:

1. MR. BOWLING/MARK VALESKI
2. EL PADRINO
3. AFFORD
4. SHARED PROPERTY


I can’t remember the last time I liked two horses in an entry, either of them right on top, for different reasons from a handicapping perspective. GOT YOUR WINNER YET?

Saturday, Race 11
Grade II Risen Star Stakes
Oaklawn Park
Purse: $300,000
Distance: 1 1/16 Mile
Surface: Dirt
Post Time: 5:55 ET

 

Post Horse   ML Jockey Wt S M Trainer
1 Afford (KY)   8-1 S. Brigmohan 116  C  L G. Geier
2 Optimizer (KY)   6-1 C. Marquez Jr. 116  C  L D. W. Lukas
3 Mr. Bowling (KY)   4-1 R. Albarado 120  C  L L. Jones
4 Z Dager (KY)   5-1 S. Sellers 116  C  L S. Asmussen
5 Ted's Folly (OK)   20-1 R. Zimmerman 120  G  L W. Brown
6 Adena's Chance (FL)   30-1 R. Eramia 116  C  L G. Dorochenko
7 Hero of Order (KY)   30-1 J. Graham 116  C  L G. Dorochenko
8 El Padrino (KY)   2-1 J. Castellano 116  C  L T. Pletcher
9 Mark Valeski (KY)   4-1 R. Napravnik 116  C  L L. Jones
10 Shared Property (KY)   6-1 L. Goncalves 120  G  L T. Amoss
11 Tizanexpense (KY)   10-1 M. Mena 116  C  L M. Maker

A - Coupled Entries - Mr. Bowling, Mark Valeski
B - Coupled Entries - Adena's Chance, Hero of Order

Owners: 1 - Jim Tafel, LLC (Jim Tafel); 2 - Bluegrass Hall, LLC (Brad Kelley); 3 - Brereton C. Jones;
4 - Zayat Stables, LLC (Ahmed Zayat); 5 - Steve Martin; 6 - Raut, LLC (Gennadi & Irina Dorochenko);
7 - Raut, LLC (Gennadi & Irina Dorochenko); 8 - Let's Go Stable (Bryan Sullivan & Kevin Scatuorchio);
9 - Brereton C. Jones; 10 - Jerry Namy; 11 - George & Tiffany Veloudis 
Breeders: 1 - James Tafel; 2 - Bluegrass Hall, LLC; 3 - Brereton C. Jones; 4 - Glencrest Farm LLC;
5 - Harmony Stable, LLC; 6 - Adena Springs; 7 - Wind Hill Farm; 8 - Emory A. Hamilton; 9 - Brereton
C. Jones; 10 - Mr. & Mrs. John Williams; 11 - George M. Veloudis Jr.

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