Intense Holiday emerged from his scintillating nose victory in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 22 in good order and is expected to continue on to the $1 million Louisiana Derby (gr. II).
"That's the game plan right now," said co-owner Jack Wolf of Starlight Racing the morning afterward in reference to the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), to be run March 29 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
The long-striding son of Harlan's Holiday ran down longtime pacesetter Albano at the wire to win the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star by a nose.
"We talked to (trainer) Todd (Pletcher) about it and he's on board with (the Louisiana Derby), and we talked to (jockey) Mikey (Smith) and he says he's open (for the mount).
"Intense Holiday seemed to like the track here. The long stretch here seemed to suit him, so—the good Lord willing—the horse keeps going like he is, it looks like a good plan."
The Louisiana Derby, run at 1 1/8 miles, is a traditional prep for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Brereton Jones's Risen Star runner-up Albano will also get a shot at the Louisiana Derby, trainer Larry Jones said Sunday morning.
"He ran a great race yesterday," Jones said. "I was very pleased with the way he ran. He just got beat in the last jump. I just don't like this déjà vu stopping us all the time."
Albano is an Istan half brother to Brereton Jones' Mark Valeski, runner-up by narrow margins in the 2012 Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby.
"Albano reminds me so much of Mark," Jones said. "He looks just like him and he acts just like him. I just hope we don't get the same result in the next round like we did two years ago."
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Vicar's in Trouble, third as the 2-1 favorite in the Risen Star, also came out of the race in good order after his efforts from the outside post in the 14-horse field. Vicar's in Trouble won Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) in January at Fair Grounds.
"Obviously, (the post position) wasn't ideal for us," said Mike Maker's assistant trainer Joe Sharp of the Louisiana-bred son of Into Mischief, "but I thought our horse ran a good race and he definitely came out of it well and is doing well this morning. We haven't decided anything for sure quite yet about his next race."
Mike Pegram, Karl Watson, and Paul Weitman's Hoppertunity, fourth in the Risen Star, also appeared to come through his stakes debut in good shape.
"I thought our horse ran a great race," said Bob Baffert's assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said of the son of Any Given Saturday, "especially since it was only the third start of his career. He seemed to like the track here and I think he showed he might be better at a longer distance."