Updated 5:04 p.m.
Ten sophomores – five locally based and five shipping in – comprise the entries for Saturday's 1 1 1/16-mile Risen Star Stakes.
Two of the top names are Lecomte Stakes winner International Star and Imperia, last seen finishing a close second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
The Mike Maker-trained International Star is a two-time graded stakes winner. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus earned a career-high 90 Beyer Speed Figure in the Lecomte and signaled his readiness with a bullet work on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, going five furlongs in 1:00.20. Miguel Mena has the return call from the outside post 10.
Kiaran McLaughlin's Imperia has had the Risen Star on his radar since ending his juvenile season with a head loss in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. In that effort, the son of Medaglia d’Oro and Chilean Horse of the Year Cocoa Beach earned a field-high 94 Beyer Speed Figure. As a juvenile, the dark bay Kentucky homebred was an impressive winner of the Pilgrim Stakes on the Belmont Park grass before finishing a troubled 10th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Mike Smith is scheduled to fly in from California for the mount, and the team will break from post 5.
Beaten 2 1/2 lengths by International Star in the Lecomte were the Tom Amoss-trained War Story and Tiznow R J from the Steve Asmussen barn.
War Story bailed out of Arkansas after drawing post 11 in the Southwest Stakes in the face of an impending winter storm that eventually caused a postponement of the race. Kent Desormeaux will be in to ride War Story for the first time from post 6.
Robby Albarado and Tiznow R J have once again drawn the same post 2 from which they broke in the Lecomte.
Maiden winner J S Bach, trained by Todd Pletcher will likely receive plenty of attention on the toteboard after being entered in the postponed Southwest Stakes. The Risen Star carries 85 Kentucky Derby points while the Southwest carries 17. J S Bach's connections have opted for the Risen Star, and the colt will receive the riding services of Rafael Bejarano from post 4.
Shipping in from California will be St. Joe Bay, trained by Peter Miller. A speedy graded stakes-placed son of Saint Anddan, the Florida-bred was second last out to well-regarded Prospect Park one race after finishing in the superfecta in three consecutive graded stakes. Locally based rider Florent Geroux picks up the mount from the rail.
The Dale Romans barn has entered Keen Ice. A long-striding bay son of Curlin, the graded stakes-placed colt should appreciate Fair Grounds’ longer stretch, as opposed to that of Gulfstream Park where he finished fifth last out in the Holy Bull Stakes. Keen Ice’s best performance thus far was a third of 13 in the Remsen Stakes one race prior. He picks up meet-leading rider James Graham and will break from post 8.
Larry Jones trainee Bluff exits a two-turn local win in which he demolished his rivals and cantered home an easy 5 3/4-length winner. Kerwin Clark has the return call from post 3.
The remainder of the Risen Star field consists of:
--Big Big Easy, who has not started since October for trainer Steve Asmussen, but he owns a sharp win over Eagle two starts back in a one-mile optional claimer in which he earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure. Antioco Murgia rides Hero of Humor from post 7.
--Hero of Humor was outclassed in the Lecomte when finishing sixth, but he returned nine days later to win a mile and 70-yard optional claimer. Richard Eramia rides Big Big Easy from post 9.
Edited Fair Grounds release with additional content by Dick Downey