By Dick Downey with additional content by Fair Grounds
Normandy Invasion has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes as the quest for Kentucky Derby points escalates.
The Risen Star helps kick off the Kentucky Derby Championship Series and is worth 85 points toward qualifying for the Run for the Roses. The winner will get 50 points and most likely qualify for the first Saturday in May.
As if the punctuate the moment, the Risen Star attracted an overflow field of 15, leaving one also-eligible.
Trained by Chad Brown, Normandy Invasion will be making his first start as a sophomore in the Risen Star after finishing a hard-charging second in the Grade II Remsen last Nov. 24. He lost by a nose to Overanalyze. Jose Lezcano will fly in from South Florida to handle the reins on the son of Tapit.
The 5-1 second choice in the Risen Star is Oxbow, racing in the revived name of Calumet Farm. He and Normandy Invasion both closed at 20-1 in the opening Kentucky Derby Future Pool. Conditioned by D. Wayne Lukas, Oxbow is already proven at the track off his 11 1/2-length romp in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes. Previously, the son of Awesome Again finished fourth in the Grade I CashCall Futurity. Jon Court has the return mount and will travel from his Hot Springs base for the day.
Code West, a son of Lemon Drop Kid, is trained by Bob Baffert. He broke his maiden last October at Santa Anita and finished second to Southwest Stakes winner Super Ninety Nine in an allowance race on Jan. 31 at that same oval. He'll be ridden by Martin Garcia and was installed at 6-1.
Also at 6-1 is Mylute, trained by Tom Amoss and to be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan. He's unraced as a sophomore but was third in Grade III Delta Jackpot last November. He won a Dec. 26 allowance at the track by 10 3/4 lengths under Rosie Napravnik.
Napravnik accepted the mount on Todd Pletcher's Palace Malice, second to Majestic Hussar at Gulfstream Park in his last race. It will be the first two-turn race for Palace Malice, set at 8-1.
Joining Palace Malice at those odds is Proud Strike, with Gary Stevens coming in from California to ride for Steve Asmussen. He broke his maiden at Fair Grounds going 1 1/16 mile, winning by 7 1/2 lengths at 4-5 odds under Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Hernandez will ride recent Fair Grounds allowance winner Departing for trainer Al Stall, Jr. Departing, who wasn't early-nominated to the Triple Crown, is 12-1.
He's Had Enough, at 10-1, was also entered at Gulfstream Park in the Grade II Fountain of Youth. Trainer Doug O'Neill said on Monday he was inclined to run in that race.
The remaining field:
Sunbean, Colby Hernandez, 12-1 as the also-eligible
Circle Unbroken, Leandro Goncalves, 20-1
Golden Soul, Miguel Mena, 20-1
Ive Struck a Nerve, James Graham, 30-1
Agent, Richard Eramia, 30-1
Hardrock Eleven, Jamie Theriot, 50-1
Bethel, Iram Diego, 50-1