Mr. Jester Faces Up-And-Comer Gradepoint in Risen Star Stakes
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 2/13/2004 4:10:34 PM
Last Updated: 2/15/2004 3:56:39 PM

Mr. Jester, winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot last December, makes his 3-year-old debut in Sunday's $150,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III). Among his six opponents will be the Neil Howard-trained Gradepoint, winner of his last two starts.

Mr. Jester has not finished worse than second in six career starts, winning four races, three of them stakes. In addition to the Delta Jackpot, in which he defeated subsequent Lecomte Stakes winner Fire Slam, the son of Silver Deputy captured the Kenetucky Cup Juvenile (gr. III) via disqualification and the Pioneer Stakes at Louisiana Downs.

Trained by Steve Wren, Mr. Jester will have the services of Roman Chapa, who rode the colt to victory in the Delta Jackpot. He will break from post 2.

Gradepoint will be the likely second choice following a maiden victory at Keeneland and an allowance score at Fair Grounds on Jan. 2. In both races the son of A.P. Indy came from far back with a powerful stretch run. Gradepoint will break from the rail under regular rider Robby Albarado, and will be in receipt of eight pounds from Mr. Jester (122-114).

One interesting starter will be Polish Rifle, who ran a disappointing fifth in the Lecomte as the even-money favorite, coming off a second-place finish to Tapit in the Laurel Futurity (gr. III). He has had two good works since that race, and will have Shane Sellers in the saddle for the first time. The Lecomte was his first start under new trainer Steve Asmussen. Like Mr. Jester, he carries 122 pounds.

The remainer of the field consists of Assault Commander, Nightlifeatbigblue, Oneverycoolcat, and Shiloh Bound. Of these, Shiloh Bound appears to be the only one with a chance. The son of Cat's Career is undefeated in three starts for trainer Walter Bindner, and is coming off a victory in the 7 1/2-furlong Black Gold Handicap on the grass. He'll be ridden by Jose Riquelme.

Entrants for the $150,000 Risen Star at 1 1/16 miles:

Post, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Weight

1 -- Gradepoint, Neil Howard, Robby Albarado, 114
2 -- Mr. Jester, Steve Wren, Roman Chapa, 122
3 -- Assault Commander, Isaac Bailey, V.L. Smith, 117
4 -- Nightlifeatbigblue, Bobby Barnett, Eddie Martin Jr., 114
5 -- Oneverycoolcat, Alex Sauque, Corey Lanerie, 114
6 -- Polish Rifle, Steve Asmussen, Shane Sellers, 122
7 -- Shiloh Bound, Walter Bindner, Jose Riquelme, 122


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