Stakes Are Higher Now
A competitive field of 14 and one also-eligible will pursue Kentucky Derby aspirations in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford -- the first of the 2019 Derby Road races that awards 50-20-10-5 points to the top four finishers. Up to now, most races have been worth only 10 points to the winner.
Already an established name on the Derby trail is Gary Barber’s War of Will, who acquired 10 points when taking the LeComte Stakes on Jan. 19 and is currently number 13 on the points leaderboard. Trained by Mark Casse, the son of War Front has won both of his starts over the main track as well as a five-length maiden special weight event over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs last November.
War of Will drew the outside in the field of 14 and is slated as the 5-2 morning line favorite by Fair Grounds clocker and odds maker Mike Diliberto.
“It’s pretty well the same bunch that he’ll be up against,” Casse said. “Obviously the post is outside but we’d rather be out there than inside. He’s got enough speed so he’ll get over and if he’s as good as we think he is it shouldn’t matter.”
Tyler Gaffalione has guided War of Will to both of his career victories and will return to the saddle for Saturday’s race.
A handful of invaders from South Florida will be in New Orleans for the Risen Star.
Henley’s Joy, trained by Mike Maker, will make his main track debut in Saturday’s race. Owned by Bloom Racing Stable, the son of Kitten’s Joy has stakes victories in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile and Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream Park on his resume and boasts the highest amount of career earnings in the field, having banked $372,160. At 10-1 on the morning line, Henley’s Joy will break from post 5 under jockey Manny Franco.
Maker also sends out Three Diamonds Farm’s Dunph, who seeks his first victory since taking the Spendthrift Stallion Stakes at Churchill Downs last November. The son of Temple City last raced in the Remington Springboard Mile at Remington Park, where he was third. Dunph, 20-1 on the morning line, breaks from post 11 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
Also shipping from Florida is highly regarded maiden special weight winner Country House for owners Mrs. J. V. Shields, E.J. McFadden and LNJ Foxwoods. Trained by Bill Mott, the son of Lookin At Lucky broke his maiden by 3 1/2 lengths at third asking over the main track at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19. Luis Saez will ride Country House, who breaks from post 9. His morning line is 20-1.
Locally-based Owendale, owned by Rupp Racing, will make his stakes debut in the Risen Star. He defeated a nice group of winners in a first level allowance race at Fair Grounds on Jan. 17. Trained by two-time leading Fair Grounds trainer Brad Cox, the son of Into Mischief defeated fellow Risen Star aspirant Frolic More (post 12, Corey Lanerie, 10-1) and well-bred Gun It (also eligible, Ricardo Santana, Jr., 10-1) in his last effort by 1 1/2 length. Shaun Bridgmohan guided him to victory and will be back aboard for the Risen Star from post 8, where he is the 6-1 second choice on the morning line.
Manny Wah, third in the LeComte after setting the pace, returns with Channing Hill aboard at a 12-1 morning line.
The full field from the rail out:
1 Plus Que Parfait (Julien Leparoux, 10-1)
2. Roiland (James Graham, 20-1)
3 Mr. Money (Gabriel Saez, 12-1)
4 Chase the Ghost (Mitchell Murrill, 30-1)
5 Henley's Joy (Manny Franco, 10-1)
6 Hog Creek Hustle (Florent Geroux, 8-1)
7 Manny Wah (Channing Hill, 12-1)
8 Owendale (Shaun Bridgmohan, 6-1)
9 Country House (Luis Saez, 20-1)
10 Limonite (Brian Hernandez, Jr., 10-1)
11 Dunph (Jose Ortiz, 20-1)
12 Frolic More (Corey Lanerie, 10-1)
13 Kingly (Drayden Van Dyke, 12-1)
14 War of Will (Tyler Gaffalione, 5-2)
AE Gun It (Ricardo Santana, Jr., 10-1)
Morning line supplied by Fair Grounds press office