Saintly Look, multiple stakes winner runs in Sunday's Risen Star Stakes.

Saintly Look, multiple stakes winner runs in Sunday's Risen Star Stakes.

Lou Hodges Jr.

Thirteen Try Their Luck in Risen Star Sunday

Edited release from Fair Grounds
Mirroring the wide-open nature of this year's hunt for the Kentucky Derby, a field of 13 will assemble Sunday to contest the grade III Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Three of the top four morning-line choices will be making their stakes debuts, making a possible upset well within striking distance for what turned out to be a full field of 13.

But even with these questions surrounding them, this promising group of 3-year-olds has higher goals, including the grade II Louisiana Derby on March 9.

"Running well and taking the next step is always the goal at this time of the year," said trainer Ronny Werner, who will saddle undefeated Badge of Silver. "You can't look too far ahead, but we have a plan mapped out for this colt and we're hoping he could be the real deal."

The Risen Star is the final prep for the Louisiana Derby and is a graded event for the second consecutive year. Like the Louisiana Derby, the Risen Star will be contested at 1 1/16 miles. If recent form holds true, the Louisiana Derby winner will be in action Sunday.

For six straight years a horse that has run in the Risen Star has won the Louisiana Derby. Last year, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner War Emblem finished sixth in the Risen Star.

"That tells me that horses training here and having a solid race over the course do well," said jockey Shane Sellers, who will ride multiple Fair Grounds stakes winner Saintly Look. "There are so many preps and a lot of trainers still have a lot of questions they need answered. I wouldn't change my horse with anyone. He's as accomplished as any in the field and it will be my job to get him out there relaxed."

Gulfstream shipper Indy Dancer enters the Risen Star as the slight 3-1 morning line favorite after back-to-back wins to start his career.

Owned by Wertheimer Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, Indy Dancer should not be hampered by the drawing the outside post position, considering his late running style.

 "His running style is to come from way out of it," said Pletcher, who toyed with the idea of keeping Indy Dancer home for the Fountain of Youth Stakes Saturday at Gulfstream. "I think the long stretch at the Fair Grounds will suit him well.  The track in the last couple of weeks has gotten fairly speed favoring at Gulfstream.  And I didn't think that would be in his best interests."

Saintly Look should get a ground-saving trip from the rail post.
Owned by William Carl, Saintly Look owns an experience edge over this group after his victories in both the Sugar Bowl Stakes and the one-mile Lecomte Stakes.

"We think our colt is going to be ready," said Stewart, who won the 2001 Risen Star with Dollar Bill.  "I think that Saintly Look is probably on about the same scale as Dollar Bill was a couple of years ago.  I think this will be a good test for our colt to kind of see what we've got and where we're at."

The field for the Risen Star, in post position order with jockeys and weights:

1) Saintly Look (Shane Sellers, 122)
2) Leo's Last Hurrahy (Gerard Melancon, 122)
3) Gohalo (Willie Martinez, 114)
4) Seattle Hoofer (Frank Lovato Jr., 114)
5) Prince Alphie (Larry Melancon, 122)
6) Lone Star Sky (Calvin Borel, 122)
7) Gentlemen J J (Elvis Joseph, 114)
8) Crowned King (Kirk LeBlanc, 114)
9) Defrere's Vixen (Corey Lanerie, 114)
10)Canaan Land (Eddie Martin Jr., 114)
11)Badge of Silver (Robby Alberado, 114)
12)Deep Shadow (Mike Smith, 114)
13)Indy Dancer (John Velazquez, 117)