Eclipse winner John Velasquez will ride Todd Pletcher's Harlington in Saturday's Risen Star.

Eclipse winner John Velasquez will ride Todd Pletcher's Harlington in Saturday's Risen Star.


Harlington Taking Big Step in Risen Star

The regally-bred Harlington, a $2.8 million yearling purchase who has won his two races to date, is the 3-1 favorite in a field of 11 sophomores entered for Saturday's $150,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds.

Todd Pletcher trains Harlington, one of six horses shipping to Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) preview race, for Eugene Melnyk's Melnyk Racing Stables, Inc.

The son of Unbridled-Serena's Song drew post No. 10 on Wednesday and will be ridden by John Velazquez while carrying only 114 pounds. The colt broke his maiden at Aqueduct last year before a first-level allowance win by nine lengths Jan. 15 at Gulfstream Park.

Harlington is not the only seven-figure purchase in the field. Scipion, a three-quarters brother to former 2-year-old champion Vindication, was a $1.9 million yearling purchase. The son of A.P. Indy has only a maiden win, but is graded stakes-placed for owner Virginia Kraft Payson and trainer Patrick Biancone.

The local contingent for Saturday's race is led by Sugar Bowl and Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) winner Storm Surge, trained by Dallas Stewart, and Rush Bay, who will make his 3-year-old debut for trainer Tom Amoss.

Storm Surge was a beaten favorite three starts ago in the Kentucky Jockey Club (gr. II) at Churchill Downs, but has since rebounded with wins in the Sugar Bowl at six furlongs and the one-mile Lecomte.

The Overbrook Farm homebred is by Storm Cat out of the Mr. Prospector mare Especially. Five-time Fair Grounds leading rider Robby Albarado gets the return call on Storm Surge, who is the 5-1 third choice and drew post No. 3.

Rush Bay, at 9-2 and the second choice on the morning line, has not started since the Kentucky Jockey Club, where he rallied to finish second, 1 3/4 lengths behind Greater Good. Amoss has put weekly works into Rush Bay over the last month, including a bullet 1:13 3/5 for six furlongs on Sunday.

Eusebio Razo Jr., who arrived at Fair Grounds last week, will break Rush Bay from the outside post.

Harlington, Storm Surge, and Rush Bay are individual entries in the first pool of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which runs from Thursday through Sunday.

$150,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. III), 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Smooth Bid (MD), Brian J. Hernandez, Jr., 122, 10/1
2. Electric Light (KY), Larry Melancon, 119, 12/1
3. Storm Surge (KY), Robby Albarado, 122, 5/1
4. Bold Lion (IL), Jesse M. Campbell, 114, 20/1
5. Iced Out (CA), Tyler Baze, 114, 8/1
6. Silent Bid (KY), Mike E. Smith, 114, 10/1
7. Buzzards Bay (FL), Mark Guidry, 122, 10/1
8. Scipion (KY), Gary L. Stevens, 114, 12/1
9. Real Dandy (KY), Donnie J. Meche, 114, 10/1
10. Harlington (KY), John R. Velazquez, 114, 3/1
11. Rush Bay (KY), Eusebio Razo, Jr., 114, 9/2