The stakes in the Kentucky Derby prep race series increases significantly this weekend with the running of the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana.
The race, the ninth race on the Saturday card and set for a 3:03 p.m. PDT post time, is the first of the 50-20-10-5 point races.
At the forefront of the field is Jerry Hollendorfer’s Instilled Regard (8-5). The horse is coming off an impressive win in Grade III LeComte on the same track on January 13.
The 3-length win was the second in the last three starts for Instilled Regard. After breaking his maiden at the end of October at Santa Anita, the horse came back to run third – he was placed second via disqualification – in the Los Alamitos Futurity behind the Solomini and McKinzie. Solomini was controversially disqualified in the race.
In the LeComete, Instilled Regard sat the perfect trip throughout the race before pulling away from the favored Principe Guilherme.
Principe Guilherme (7-2) is back for another shot at Instilled Regard. The Steve Asmussen trained runner was 2-for-2 coming into the LeComte, winning the two starts by a combined 18 lengths. He found some trouble early in the race and still ran to a second-place finish.
Noble Indy (5-1) is the third choice for the race. Part of the Todd Pletcher army, Noble Indy has won both starts, but faces stakes company for the first time, but does have a win over the highly regarded Mississippi.
Snapper Sinclair (8-1) – another Asmussen horse – may be an interesting runner. The horse was third in the LeComte, losing to Principe Guilherme by only a neck at 28-1. He had two wins in his first three starts before failing miserably in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf finishing 12th by over 10 lengths. The LeComte was only his second start on the dirt in five starts so it will bear watching to see if the last start was a fluke or the real deal.
Looking for the longshot? Take a look at Givemeamint (15-1). The horse has one win in seven starts, that coming in his last start, a maiden allowance race at the Fair Grounds. Before then he was battling in stakes races, including a series of Grade I events and not running horribly. Is it a stretch here? Sure, but the odds will be tasty!
El Camino Real
The annual fraud that is the El Camino Real Derby is also running today. This once proud race is now a joke when considered a Kentucky Derby prep race.
The 7th race on the Golden Gate Fields card and is set for a 3:45 p.m. post. At this point – and realistically at any time over the next few months – there is zero chance I could make a case for any of these horses to get a berth in the Derby.
Choo Choo (9-5) is the overwhelming favorite based on his win in the California Derby for Hollendorfer. Juan Hernandez takes the mount again and will provide no value.
Paved (2-1) is the second choice but the Southern California shipper that runs out of Michael McCarthy barn has only been on the turf in his three starts, including a win by five lengths in his most recent start, a maiden allowance race.
Blended Citizen (4-1) is another SoCal horse that heads north looking for a payday, but this is a horse that has one win in six starts and doesn’t exactly have a track record that instills confidence.
I am going to play the same horse I did in the California Derby and was nearly rewarded. Mugaritz (10-1) is a front-runner that went for a new strategy in his last, taking back and then making a run late finishing second behind Choo Choo. He has two very impressive works over the surface since the race and is a far better value than 9-5!
By Dennis Miller