The Grade II Risen Star set for Saturday at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana is shaping up as the best Kentucky Derby prep race of the 2021 season.

There are 13 horses set to go to post in the 13th race of the day on the Fair Grounds card and, the race is scheduled for a 4:18 p.m. PDT post.

The race is also the first in the second-tier of prep races with the points awarded being 50-20-10-5. Win here and you are pretty close to being guaranteed a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May!

Let’s take a look at the top runners.

Keepmeinmind (Robertino Diodoro/David Cohen/3-1) has an impressive resume, running his first four starts in Kentucky. While those four only produced one win, it does include a pair of solid losses to Essential Quality – one second, then a third in the BC Juvenile. His last start came in the Kentucky Jockey Club, where he picked up his first win in late November at Churchill Downs. He has been off since the win but sports a sharp work tab since then and is a player here. A a 3-1 favorite shows the depth of runners at this spot.

Midnight Bourbon (Steve Asmussen/Joe Talamo/6-1) is coming off a front running victory in the Lecomte, an earlier Derby prep held at the Fair Grounds. The race in mid-January was his first since October when he was third in the Champagne at Belmont. His front running win showed plenty of heart as he was pushed hard in the lane and held on for the win. A steady workout schedule since the win has the horse looking ready here.

Mandaloun (Brad Cox/Florent Geroux/9-2) went in to the LeComte with two wins in two starts and was the favorite before not being to catch Midnight Bourbon. His last two works have been monsters and will look to turn the tables here. It appears through his first three starts, he prefers to run off the pace, but keeping contact with the front runners. It worked his first two start but didn’t in his first trip around two turns. Despite being beat by Midnight Bourbon in their last meeting, he comes in the betting choice between the two here.

Proxy (Michael Stidham/John Velazquez/8-1) was your second place horse in the Lecomte tracking just off winner Midnight Bourbon in the impressive effort. Gets a big step up in the jockey department and figures to be a big pace factor in this spot.

Senor Buscador (Todd Pletcher/Luis Quinonez/6-1) figures to draw a lot of interest as the horse comes into the race sporting the best last start Beyer. Two starts and two wins at Remington Park may not pass the eye test, but the 93 Beyer for the deep closing 5-plus length win in the Springboard may in fact springboard the horse into the conversation.

I think if I was looking for a long-shot risk, I would consider the rail-horse, Starrinmydreams (Dallas Stewart/Brian Hernandez/12-1). The horse has two starts, both wins, with the last one coming in the slop at Churchill Downs in late November. The race was also 1-1/16 so he’s handled the two turns. He’s been off since then but has a strong series of works over the Fair Grounds track.

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