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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

International Star Goes for Hat Trick


International Star seeks to add to his victories in the Lecomte and Risen Star Stakes after drawing the outside post in Saturday's Louisiana Derby.

Miguel Mena has the return call on the New York-bred, who kicked off his sophomore campaign with a 2 1/2-length, rail-skimming victory over War Story in the Lecomte after breaking from post 1. Five weeks later in the Risen Star, he started on the outside and charged through two tight openings en route to another rail trip and a one-length tally over his nemesis War Story.

International Star was assigned 3-1 morning line favoritism as he seeks his fourth graded stakes win in nine career starts.

War Story, co-second choice at 4-1 on the morning line, will attempt to turn the tables after breaking slowly in both of his last two starts. Previous to those efforts, the gelded son of Northern Afleet won his first two efforts rather easily – a maiden special weight over seven furlongs at Churchill Downs and a one-mile allowance at Fair Grounds just 20 days prior to the Lecomte.

The chestnut missed a workout and was briefly out of the feed tub prior to the Risen Star after trainer Tom Amoss pulled him out of the Southwest Stakes and shipped him back to New Orleans. There's been no drama since then, so all pre-race excuses will be null and void when Joe Talamo climbs aboard for the first time on Saturday.

Joining War Story at 4-1 on the morning line is Mr. Z, who exits a third-place finish in the rescheduled Southwest on Feb. 22. Despite only one win from 10 starts, the son of Malibu Moon carries serious credentials and back-class – including placing in six graded stakes, two of which were grade I's. Drawing post 2 under new jockey Kent Desormeaux, the chestnut colt will shed the blinkers used in his last five starts for Wayne Lukas.

The Dale Romans-trained Keen Ice, a closing third in the Risen Star, and Todd Pletcher's Stanford, a highly regarded stakes-placed allowance winner, both check in at 5-1. Keen Ice will try to move forward once again after charging from last in the Risen Star to lose by just under three lengths. James Graham gets the return mount from post 7.

Stanford exits the Islamorada Stakes at the Louisiana Derby’s 1 1/8-miles distance. He ran erratically and was disqualified from runner-up to last. Florent Geroux, who has won six stakes during the current Fair Grounds meet, picks up the ride from the rail.

The fast-improving A Day in Paradise enters for the capable Larry Jones barn. The bay gelding was a hard-trying second to War Story in the aforementioned Fair Grounds allowance on Dec. 28. He returned exactly two months later to take the two-turn, one-mile Texas Heritage Stakes at Sam Houston by 3 1/4 lengths. Since then, the son of Yes It’s True is said to have worked impressively locally. He'll retain the services of Kerwin Clark, who has been aboard for all five career starts, from post 5.

The remainder of the field for the Louisiana Derby is comprised of local maiden winner Defondo (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post 3), stakes-placed Fusaichi Flame (Francisco Torres, post 4) and pace-setting Risen Star fourth-place finisher St. Joe Bay (Robby Albarado, post 8).

Edited Fair Grounds release with additional content by Dick Downey


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