With a $400,000 purse and some major points along the Kentucky Derby Trail, the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots Feb. 23 has attracted an overflow field of 15 3-year-olds headed by grade III winners Oxbow and Circle Unbroken.
With the starting field limited to 14, Louisiana-bred Sunbean, one of two horses entered in the race by New Orleans native Al Stall Jr., is the lone also-eligible who will draw in should a scratch occur.
Along with the Besilu Stables' Fountain of Youth (gr. II) at Gulfstream Park Feb. 23, the Risen Star will offer points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers, respectively, as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series that will determine the field for the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). The Risen Star is the traditional prep for the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II), which will have its 100th running March 30.
Calumet Farm's Oxbow, a son of Awesome Again who was purchased for $250,000 at the 2011 Keeneland September yearling sale, is coming into the Risen Star off an impressive 11 1/2-length romp in the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Jan. 19. Trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Oxbow broke his maiden at Churchill Downs in his fourth career start and closed out his 2-year-old season with a fourth-place finish in the CashCall Futurity (gr. I). The LeComte was the bay colt's first start of 2013.
Circle Unbroken, a son of Broken Vow purchased for $92,000 at the same sale that produced Oxbow, has won half of his four starts for owner Travis Morgeson III and trainer Gary Simms, including the Bashford Manor Stakes (gr. III) at Churchill Downs last fall. He was then shipped to Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort for the Mountaineer Juvenile.
In that six-furlong test, Circle Unbroken dueled gamely before grudgingly finishing second to Maybe So as the 2-5 favorite. He was a non-threatenting sixth in the Lecomte first out this year.
Stall will be represented in the Risen Star by Brittlyn Stable homebred Sunbean and Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilshneider's homebred Departing. Sunbean is a son of Brahms who has won two of his three starts, including the Louisiana Futurity at Fair Grounds, and Departing (by War Front ) is undefeated in two starts, both at Fair Grounds.
Another locally-based colt that is set to contest the Risen Star is GoldMark Farm's Mylute, a son of Midnight Lute who has won or placed in six of his seven starts and earned $213,695. Trained by Tom Amoss, the colt broke his maiden at Arlington Park before being sent to Louisiana to Delta Downs Racetrack & Casino, where he rallied to finish second in the Jean Lafitte Stakes and made a late bid to be third in the $1 million Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. II).
Also entered in the Risen Star is Reddam Racing's He's Had Enough , who was also entered in the Fountain of Youth and is more likely to run in that race in Florida. The son of Tapit ran second to eventual 2-year-old male champion Shanghai Bobby in last year's Grey Goose Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), and this year finished third in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (gr. II) for trainer Doug O'Neill.
Reddam and O'Neill are the connections of 2012 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner I'll Have Another .
$400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II, Race 10, 4:57 p.m. EST), 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer (All carry 116 pounds)
1. Proud Strike (VA), G L Stevens, S Asmussen
2. Code West (VA), M Garcia, B Baffert
3. Agent (OK), R E Eramia, J McAnally
4. Golden Soul (KY), M Mena, D Stewart
5. Mylute (KY), S Bridgmohan, T M Ammoss
6. Palace Malice (KY)< R Napravnik, T A Pletcher
7. Hardrock Eleven (FL), J Theriot, D P Banks
8. Ive Struck a Nerve (KY), J Graham, J K Desormeaux
9. Normandy Invasion (KY), J Lezcano, C C Brown
10. Oxbow (KY), J K Court, D W Lukas
11. Bethel, I V Diego, G Dorochenko
12. He's Had Enough (KY), M Gutierrex, D F O'Neill
13. Circle Unbroken (FL), L R Goncalves, G W Simms
14. Departing (KY), B J Hernandez, A M Stall Jr.
15. (AE) Sunbean (LA), C J Hernandez, A M Stall Jr.