(Edited Fair Grounds press release)
Don Benge’s Maximus Ruler, runner-up in Fair Grounds’ grade III Lecomte Jan. 23 after inheriting an unwanted pacesetting scenario, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 at the Louisiana track Feb. 14 in preparation for the Feb. 20 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II).
“The idea is to get him to relax,” said trainer Clark Hanna, “so we broke him off at the half-mile pole this morning, let him go to the seven-eighths, and then let him gallop out the rest of the way on his own. He came back bucking and squealing so we might want to send him out again to go a quarter-mile on Thursday (Feb. 18) just to keep him relaxed.
“I’d really like to see some speed in Saturday’s race (the Risen Star) to give him something to run at,” Hanna continued. “The last time (in the Lecomte) we thought there was a speed horse in there (Cool Bullet), but then they took him back and we ended up on the lead. (Maximus Ruler) is not going to be able to go 46 and change (his half split in the Lecomte) and still win this race Saturday, but we think we can get him to improve off of that.”
The $300,000 Risen Star is a prep for the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) March 27.
Maximus Ruler is a 3-year-old son of Roman Ruler.