I can tell the Kentucky Derby madness has begun just by the number of requests I get to participate in various writing projects … And why not? The months leading up to Derby Day are among my favorites of the year. It’s all about the anticipation as everyone with big dreams jockeys for the right to run for America’s most prestigious race. Two such requests came in from a couple of friends of mine: Steve Munday of WirePlayers.com and Gene Kershner of ThoroFan. Both are excellent websites, and if you’ve never visited them before, I highly recommend you do. Below you can find the latest WirePlayers Derby Dozen in which Steve brings together a bunch of his racing friends for the most entertaining Derby poll I know of, and after that, my full analysis of tomorrow’s Risen Star Stakes for ThoroFan. Be sure to follow the links to see all the information, and enjoy!
For the rest of the WirePlayers Derby Dozen click here
Looking for a Rising Star in the Risen Star
Saturday’s running of the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds features a field of 11 Kentucky Derby hopefuls competing for an all-important $300,000 worth of graded earnings. As last year’s edition has shown us, (winner Mucho Macho Man came back to finish third in the Run for the Roses) the Risen Star can be a launching pad for new three-year-old stars. Among the eleven entered this year, there are several with potential to make it to Louisville, and one in particular that I believe could do as well or even better than the Macho Man. Without further ado, let’s get to the handicapping!
#1 (Mr. Bowling & Mark Valeski entry) provide an interesting one-two punch for trainer Larry Jones. Mr. Bowling was a game winner of the recent LeComte Stakes in his first race in the Big Easy, while his stablemate has flashed enough speed in a pair of sprint wins to be considered the likely pacesetter under Rosie Napravnik. Personally, I cannot toss either half, and I believe they deserve to be a solid second choice, but I just don’t like either horse enough to be sold on the coupling. I think the horses Mr. Bowling narrowly beat in an average edition of the LeComte may have more reason to improve, while Mark Valeski should have enough early pressure to be softened up before the decision is done.
#2 (Adena’s Chance & Hero of Order entry) combine to form a far less interesting coupling than the one above. Both horses have had plenty of opportunity to prove that they are not quite good enough to pull this off. Of the two, Hero of Order should at least make his presence known by being part of the early pace.
#3 Afford has my full attention simply by being a son of Street Sense out of an Unbridled mare, but there appears to be more here than just a stamina oriented pedigree. Owned by Jim Tafel, the well bred colt has shown steady improvement since a third place debut at Hawthorne in October, including a rallying win in his first try around two-turns. Two solid efforts over the Fair Grounds surface have me believing that if any of the longer shots in the field fire, it likely will be Afford.
#4 Optimizer It’s been awhile since trainer D. Wayne Lukas had his heyday, and of late it seems that he often is caught bringing a knife to a gunfight in the form of horses in over their heads. Eventually I think Optimizer may be a horse who makes some noise, but I think that will likely happen on the lawn.
For the rest of my Risen Star analysis on ThoroFan click here