The Risen Star (G2) will be the first start for Mo Town since his Remsen victory.

The Risen Star (G2) will be the first start for Mo Town since his Remsen victory.

Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand

Mo Town, Guest Suite Set for Risen Star Showdown

So of Uncle Mo makes first start since Remsen win.

The house horse has held a decided advantage in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) in recent years, with three of the last four winners having prior form or being a regular trainee over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots surface.

With his understated trainer leading the way, Mo Town has arrived in New Orleans looking to kick off his sophomore season by disrupting what has become the norm in the 1 1/16-mile test.

The Tex Sutton flight arriving from South Florida Feb. 21 dropped off the horse looking to ruin Mardi Gras weekend for some of the locals. While Lecomte Stakes (G3) winner Guest Suite owns the best recent form in the 14-horse field entered for the Risen Star, Tony Dutrow trainee Mo Town brings his back class to the mix as the Remsen Stakes (G2) victor makes his seasonal debut.

Owned by the Coolmore team of Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, along with Dutrow's Team D, Mo Town has taken his jumps in class in leaps and bounds during his three starts. After a seven-length Belmont Park romp to graduate at second asking, he registered a stalk-and-pounce win in the Nov. 26 Remsen Stakes going 1 1/8 miles, besting No Dozing by 2 1/2 lengths to plant himself on the watch list for the 2017 Triple Crown trail.

ANGST: Mo Town Wins Stakes Debut in Remsen

The son of Uncle Mo  has been an impressive presence on the worktab in the run up to his debut, with three straight bullet moves at Payson Park Training Center. Having already proven he can handle added distance, Dutrow is looking to his charge to show him he can handle the new wave of challenges that separates the wheat from the chaff among classic contenders.

"He's happy and ready to run," Dutrow said. "He's done well since his last race and all winter."

The Risen Star kicks off the next tier of qualifying on the 2017 Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, with 50 points awarded to the winner.

As impressive as Mo Town was in his Remsen victory, the form of that race has not held up in the early stages of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, as No Dozing returned to finish sixth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) Feb. 11 and third-place finisher Takaful ran seventh in the Jan. 2 Jerome Stakes (G3).

By contrast, Guest Suite has been flattered by some of those around him. Twice a winner around two turns, the Quality Road  gelding was last beaten when third in the Oct. 30 Street Sense Stakes to McCraken, who went on to win the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) last November and took the Sam F. Davis in track-record fashion.

Guest Suite has upped his own stock in the last handful of months as well. The Neil Howard trainee ended his 2-year-old campaign with a 6 1/4 length allowance win going a mile at Churchill Downs Nov. 26 and came with an off-the-pace run to take the Lecomte by 1 1/4 lengths over fellow Risen Star entrant Untrapped.

NOVAK: Guest Suite Steps Up in Lecomte

"He trained well and was encouraging enough, but you just don't know until they do it," Howard said after Guest Suite worked a bullet four furlongs in :48 at Fair Grounds Feb. 21. "He ran well in his first start, and fortunately he seems to have improved and moved forward with each race. He's doing well. We're just keeping our fingers crossed going into the race."

Entries: Risen Star S. (G2)

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, February 25, 2017, Race 11

  • Grade II
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $400,000
  • 3 yo
  • 5:00 PM (local)
11Girvin (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateBrian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.116Joe Sharp6/1
22Untrapped (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateRicardo Santana, Jr.116Steven M. Asmussen10/1
33Local Hero (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateFlorent Geroux116Steven M. Asmussen4/1
44Arklow (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateShaun Bridgmohan116Brad H. Cox15/1
55Shareholder Value (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMitchell Murrill116Thomas M. Amoss15/1
66Guest Suite (KY)Robby Albarado120Neil J. Howard6/1
77U S Officer (KY)Jose Valdivia, Jr.116Danny Pish20/1
88Cool Arrow (KY)Gabriel Saez120Joe Sharp15/1
99Mo Town (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJohn R. Velazquez122Anthony W. Dutrow7/2
1010Takeoff (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJulien R. Leparoux116Mark E. Casse10/1
1111Sorry Erik (KY)Kent J. Desormeaux116J. Keith Desormeaux30/1
1212Horse Fly (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateMiguel Mena116D. Wayne Lukas30/1
1313It's Your Nickel (KY)James Graham116Kenneth G. McPeek30/1
1414So Conflated (FL)Keeneland Sales GraduateMario Gutierrez120Doug F. O'Neill10/1