Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Vicar's in Trouble, dominant 6 3/4-length hero of the Jan. 18 LeComte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, drew a tough outside post in an overflow field entered for the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) to be run at Fair Grounds Feb. 22.
Sixteen 3-year-olds passed the entry box for the 1 1/16-mile event, one of five stakes on the Louisiana Derby Preview Day card, including West Coast invader Hoppertunity from the Bob Baffert barn and Todd Pletcher trainee Intense Holiday. Gore Range Stable's Emmett Park and Amerman Racing's Teniente Coronel are the also-eligibles.
Also among those entered to challenge the local victor are Delta Downs Jackpot (gr. III) winner Rise Up and 2013 FrontRunner Stakes (gr. I) winner Bond Holder, who carries top weight of 122 pounds.
Trained by Mike Maker but under the local guidance of assistant Joe Sharp, Vicar's in Trouble will have Rosie Napravnik—three-time Fair Grounds defending jockey champ—in the irons from post 14. The Louisiana-bred son of Into Mischief has worked three times since the LeComte, most recently breezing five furlongs in 1:01.20 on Feb. 16. Vicar's in Trouble will carry 120 pounds in what will be his fourth start; he took the one mile and 70 yard LeComte off his maiden win second time out.
Rise Up, winner of the $1 million Delta Jackpot last Nov. 23 for Paul and Andrena Van Doren, has been based at Fair Grounds since shortly after the first of the year following a brief vacation in Ocala, Florida. He has posted a series of four increasingly intensified works, most recently going a half-mile Feb. 15 in :47 3/5. Jockey Gerard Melancon returns for 10-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Tom Amoss. Departing post 2, the Rockport Harbor colt will carry 120 pounds.
Sure to attract strong support in the Risen Star is the invading Intense Holiday, owned by Starlight Racing and conditioned by Pletcher, winner of two of the last four edition of the Risen Star (2012, El Padrino; 2010, Discreetly Mine). Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be aboard the son of Harlan's Holiday, who was third in Gulfstream's Grade II Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 25. Intense Holiday gets in with 116 pounds from post 9.
Not to be discounted in the Risen Star are Brereton Jones's Albano
and Winchell Thoroughbreds' Gold Hawk
, second and third a neck apart behind Vicar's in Trouble in the LeComte. Albano's trainer Larry Jones has engaged Kerwin Clark as his jockey with 116 pounds assigned from the rail, while Gold Hawk's conditioner Steve Asmussen has tabbed Corey Nakatani for his charge at 116 pounds from the 6 hole.
California-based Doug O'Neill ships Reddam Stables' Bond Holder to Louisiana for his season debut. The Mineshaft
colt last ran fourth in the Dec. 14 CashCall Futurity (gr. I) on Cushion Track at Hollywood Park, and was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) over the dirt at Santa Anita Park
. He won the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita in his last victory on Sept. 28. Jockey Mario Gutierrez gets the mount from post 5.
Also shipping in from California is Mike Pegram and partners' Hoppertunity. The son of Any Given Saturday
broke his maiden by three lengths for Baffert in his last start Jan. 30 going a mile at Santa Anita. Martin Garcia gets the mount at 116 pounds from the 8 spot. Hoppertunity, out of the Unaccounted For mare Refugee, is a half brother to multiple grade I-winning filly Executiveprivilege and was a $300,000 purchase by his current connections at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale when consigned by Betz Thoroughbreds.
The Risen Star awards 85 points on the road to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), with a 50-20-10-5 value to the top four finishers.
$400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II, Race 11, approximate post 5:25 p.m. CST), 3YOs, 1 1/16 miles (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Albano (KY), K.D. Clark, 116, J L Jones
2. Rise Up (KY), G. Melancon, 120, T M Amoss
3. Flat Gone (KY), C. Landeros, 116, J K Desormeaux
4. Vigorish (KY), M. Pedroza, 116, D W Lukas
5. Bond Holder (VA), M. Gutierrez, 122, D F O'Neill
6. Gold Hawk (KY), C.S. Nakatani, 116, S M Asmussen
7. Interchange (KY), E.T. Baird, 116, T A Clark
8. Hoppertunity (KY), M. Garcia, 116, B Baffert
9. Intense Holiday (KY), M.E. Smith, 116, T A Pletcher
10. Son of a Preacher (FL), M. Mena, 116, W B Calhoun
11. Quick Indian (KY), B.J. Hernandez Jr., 116, M R Scherer
12. Xtra Luck (FL), R.E. Eramia, 116, D Pish
13. Commanding Curve (KY), R. Albarado, 116, D Stewart
14. Vicar's in Trouble (LA), R. Napravnik, 120, M J Maker
AE 15. Emmet Park (KY), J. Graham, 116, R J Pincins
AE 16. Teniente Coronel (KY), S. Bridgmohan, 116, M J McGee
Equipment Change: 16—Teniente Coronel—Blinkers on