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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

Tough Test for "Now" Horse in Risen Star


By Greg “The Commish” Johnson
The Downey Profile

There's certainly no shortage of Kentucky Derby hopefuls and dreamers in Louisiana these days. It looks like 14 will pack the gates to the rafters for the start of the second leg of the Kentucky Derby Series, where 50 points are up for grabs to the winner, providing an all-but-guaranteed post on that first Saturday in May.

This analysis needs to start from the outside and work its way in, because the true “now” horse, Vicar’s in Trouble, drew the dreaded outside post 14, although at this writing he looks to be in the 13 with the scratch of Bond Holder. That’s an awfully unattractive place to start a 1 1/16th-mile event at this or any other track.

His Beyer Speed Figures (BSF) in his last two towers over these, and it clearly looks like Rosie has the early lick with this guy to get a good position into the first turn. He hails from the powerful connections of Mike Maker and the Ramsey’s. This Louisiana-bred is the definition of "a good horse can come from anywhere," and he may prove to be a significant cut above even with that post.

Contesting the early pace from the inside will be Rise Up, who makes his first start of the year for a trainer that knows how do bring them ready at this track, Tom Amoss. The emphatic winner of the Delta Jackpot posted an all-systems-go workout on Feb. 15 on this surface and has shown in the past he can fire fresh. If pace makes the race all the way to the wire, it will be hard to figure this dude out of the hunt at any call.

Albano ran well in the Lecomte, his two-turn debut, and he's yet another who figures to be out there winging it early. The winner of the Sugar Bowl on Dec. 18 fired a best-of-24 bullet on Feb 10, and Larry Jones is another guy who knows how to bring his charges ready. His speed numbers are very competitive against these, and he warrants a good long look at what may be a fairly attractive price.

It should be no secret that Gold Hawk has been a favorite of The Downey Profile boys since his coming out party in November, followed in late December with an ultra sharp win despite trouble. I view the jockey switch to Corey Nakatani as plenty positive, as he and Mr. Asmussen have had a very successful relationship in the past. The regally-bred son of Empire Maker has as much upside as anyone in this race, but he’s also been quite a handful prior to the start of his races. The time is now to grow up. Keep an eye on him walking to the gate and on the toteboard. This one’s obviously very playable if he doesn’t use himself up too early.

Hoppertunity turned a few heads in his last outing, scoring in a mile maiden race at Santa Anita with a 92 BSF. The stable is saying there's no time like the present to test deeper waters, and it's no surprise Mr. Baffert sends this one out of California where the competition is starting to get pretty stiff. The read-between-the-lines handicapping angle here is that this guy has not exactly been hammered at the windows in his first two, which is usually not a positive sign for horses from this stable. Two works prior to this race sure have him looking ready, though. He is another to watch on the track and on the toteboard. He may be ready to fire right back if he’s bet in half, or more.

Todd Pletcher has won this race two of the last four years with Discreetly Mine and El Padrino, and that alone warrants consideration with his charge, Intense Holiday. He's run in four straight graded stakes races since October. Joel Rosario is more content to ride a top contender in the Fountain of Youth, Top Billing,  on Saturday. But wait, Mike Smith on a Pletcher horse? Sure, why not. It's tough to gauge the competition in the Holy Bull, but something’s telling me the Risen Star could certainly be comparable. Intense Holiday has one win, a maiden special weight at Monmouth last year, and I don’t know. Demand value at the window I say.

An intriguing horse flying under the radar looks to be Quick Indian. He wasn't much to write home about in his first three races, but his last, was a big, big, improvement despite a rough go of it. The pure speed-track variant numbers (84-21) are impressive, and he got his best BSF of 85 to date as he moves up the class ladder. Quick Indian gets the acid test but is worthy of a piece or more and very usable to spice up those exotics.

Commanding Curve took four starts to break his maiden on Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs. He sports back-to-back bullet workouts since arriving at Fair Grounds and has been very competitive and on the improve in each of his last three starts. His trainer is 0-for-12 lately with horses coming off a layoff, but Commanding Curve won his last race from the 11 post under Shaun Bridgmohan. On Saturday, he's in the capable hands of Robby Albarado, who rode him once before at Churchill. He doesn’t look as fast from the gate as the horse to his outside, and with all the speed on his inside, that wide post isn’t very favorable. Tricky read.

Son of a Preacher ran an even fourth just a few lengths off all the marbles in the Smarty Jones Stakes. Then those first three finishers were nowhere in the Southwest Stakes last weekend. He's had just one slow work in the slop since that race. He has some early speed which could keep him close early, but it's hard for me to see this guy sticking around when the going gets going.

As of the writing of this analysis, it looks like the also-eligible Emmett Park draws in after the unfortunate withdrawal of Bond Holder. He has won two straight at Turfway in pretty slow times. A positive jockey switch can’t hurt, but he doesn’t have early zip to get him into good position from that far gate, and, who knows, connections might consider keeping him out based on that.

Flat Gone finally found the winner's circle in his seventh attempt on Jan 25, and his connections see fit to again try him against the big boys. I guess you can’t overlook the fact that his last effort was a humungous improvement, with decent time, BSF, and track variant numbers. But he lacks early zip, and in a race where those horses close to the pace could very well forget to stop running, this looks to be a pretty rough spot for him to shine.

I have always said that you certainly can’t blame the Derby dreamers for taking a shot at a chance to run for the roses. If betting the bottom four superfecta were a playable option, I'd have to choose Vigorish, Interchange, Xtra Luck, and the other also-eligible Teniente Coronel.  I wish their connections the best of luck in what looks to be a tough task for all to make a splash.



Good luck on all your selections this weekend and as usual…may the horse be with you!


Profiles of Selected Risen Star Stakes Entries
Albano, Bond Holder, Commanding Curve, Flat Gone, Gold Hawk, Hoppertunity, Intense Holiday, Quick Indian, Rise Up, Son of a Preacher, Vicar's in Trouble

Saturday, R11
Grade II Risen Star Stakes
Fair Grounds
1 1/16 Mile
Post Time: 6:25 ET


Post   Horse  ML  Jockey Sx  Wt Trainer
1 Albano (KY) 12-1 K. Clark C 116 L. Jones
2 Rise Up (KY) 4-1 G. Melancon C 120 T. Amoss
3 Flat Gone (KY) 30-1 C. Landeros C 116 K. Desormeaux
4 Vigorish (KY) 50-1 M. Pedroza C 116 W. Lukas
5 Bond Holder (VA) SCR M. Gutiierrez C 122 D. O'Neill
6 Gold Hawk (KY) 8-1 C. Nakatani C 116 S. Asmussen
7 Interchange ((KY) 30-1 E. T. Baird C 116 T. Clark
8 Hoppertunity (KY) 8-1 M. Garcia C 116 B. Baffert
9 Intense Holiday (KY) 8-1 M Smith C 116 T. Pletcher
10 Son of a Preacher (FL) 20-1 M. Mena C 116 B. Calhoun
11 Quick Indian (KY) 20-1 B. Hernandez Jr. C 116 M. Scherer
12 Xtra Luck (FL) 50-1 R. Eramia C 116 D. Pish
13 Commanding Curve (KY) 20-1 R. Albarado R 116 D. Stewart
14 Vicar's in Trouble (LA) 5-2 R. Napravnik C 120 M. Maker
15 Emmett Park (KY) 20-1 J. Graham G 116 R. Pincins
16 Teniente Coronel (KY) 30-1 S. Bridgmohan C 116 P. McGee

All will run with Lasix.

Also Eligible: 15 - Emmett Park, 16 - Teniente Coronel

Equipment Changes: 16 - Teniente Coronel - Blinkers On

Owners: 1 - Brereton C. Jones ; 2 - Paul & Andrena Van Doren ; 3 - Don't Tell My Wife St.2013,LLC (K.Godby, J.K.Desormeaux, et al) ; 4 - Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) ; 5 - Reddam Racing, LLC (Paul Reddam) ; 6 - Winchell Thoroughbreds, LLC (Joan & Ron Winchell) ; 7 - Carlson Fam./Brett Reynolds/Jason Chang (George V. Carlson) ; 8 - Karl Watson, Michael E. Pegram, Paul Weitman ; 9 - Starlight Racing (Donald Lucarelli, et al) ; 10 - Terra Di Sienna Stables (Salvatore Simeone) ; 11 - Merrill R. Scherer & Dan Lynch ; 12 - Michele & Cliff Love ; 13 - West Point Thoroughbreds, LLC (Terrence Finley) ; 14 - Kenneth L. & Sarah K. Ramsey ; 15 - Gore Range Stable (Richard J. Emmett & Rudy F. Vogt, III) ; 16 - Amerman Racing, LLC (John & Jerome Amerman)

Breeders: 1 - Brereton C. Jones; 2 - Cottonwood Stables, LLC; 3 - Linn Davis; 4 - Bluegrass Hall, LLC; 5 - Lazy Lane Farms, LLC.; 6 - Hermitage Farm LLC; 7 - Dr. & Mrs. Joseph Fowler &Mr. & Mrs. James Mead; 8 - Betz/D.J. Stable/Kidder/J. Betz/Robenalt; 9 - Machmer Hall & Haymarket Farm; 10 - Sienna Farms LLC; 11 - Hill 'N' Dale Equine Holdings, Inc. &Edward McGhee; 12 - Haras Santa Maria de Araras S.A.; 13 - T. F. VanMeter; 14 - Spendthrift Farm LLC; 15 - Universal Thoroughbred Services, LLC.; 16 - Haymarket Farm LLC


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