Gore Range Stable's Emmett Park has joined the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford (gr. II) field at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots as he drew in off the also-eligible list following the scratch of Bond Holder.
Trainer Doug O'Neill shipped Reddam Racing's well-regarded Bond Holder from Southern California to Louisiana last weekend only to have the horse come up body sore the day after arriving in New Orleans following a rough flight. Bond Holder was scratched and Emmett Park officially joined the field for the Feb. 22 race.
Emmett Park was saddled to victories at Turfway Park in his first two career starts by veteran conditioner Robert Pincins.
"I would never wish anything unfortunate to happen to another man's horse," Pincins said. "However, these things happen, and I've been on the other end of that same scenario enough times since I first started training in 1976.
"I talked to the stakes coordinator (Scott Jones) before we even decided to come down here from Kentucky," Pincins said. "He warned me we might not make into the body of the race, but he also said that during the time he has been stakes coordinator down here, there have been a number of horses who had been late withdrawals after arriving for one reason or another.
"We took a chance coming down here and it worked out for us," said Pincins, "but we did have a 'Plan B' if things didn't work out. The (John Battaliga Memorial Stakes) is next weekend at Turfway, and we would have just turned around and gone back up to Kentucky to run in that race. That's got a $100,000 purse but of course it doesn't offer any points toward the Kentucky Derby the way this race here does, and if you think you might have a horse that might become good enough to run in the Derby you have to make sure you've picked up enough points along the way.
"I haven't had many good ones in my career, but I like the way this one has been coming along for me and we'll see how far we can go with him." Pincins said. "He's undefeated so far and I think he's improving."
Emmett Park' is yet to compete over dirt after winning twice on Turfway's Polytrack, but the Bob and John gelding has posted three nice works over the local oval since his arrival.
"I think his works have been fantastic," said Pincins, referring to a half-mile move in :49 4/5 Feb. 4, his five-furlong work in 1:01 flat Feb. 9, and his second four-furlong breeze in :48 2/5 Feb. 17. "He's been doing good since we got here and I'm very pleased with him."
Pincins, 62, grew up in New England and worked at now-defunct race tracks like Lincoln Downs and Narragansett before getting his trainer's license at Hawthorne Race Course and eventually gravitating to the Kentucky circuit. He has trained "on and off" for Richard Emmett and Rudy Vogt's Gore Range Stable for several years.
"There is an Emmett Park in Virginia," Pincins said, "and it is named in honor of Richard Emmett's late father."