An enterprising handicapper looking for a longshot play in Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots need only go back to last year’s Grade II Louisiana Derby to obtain the necessary encouragement.
Raut LLC’s Hero of Order returned a healthy $220.80 win price to a few very inventive punters with a stout heart – giving them the chance to grin along with owner-trainer Gennadi Dorochenko who allowed himself to look like the proverbial cat that ate the canary at his post-Louisiana Derby press conference.
Is there such a wagering opportunity available in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford?
A study of horsemen with horses entered in the Risen Star who are enjoying the best winter of their career might be prudent, and that would lead the student down a yellow brick road to trainer Keith Desormeaux and his Risen Star entrant Ive Struck a Nerve, a 3-year-old bay son of Yankee Gentleman owned by Matthew Bryan.
“Matt Bryan has invested heavily in me by getting me better horses to train,” said Desormeaux last week. “He has placed a lot of confidence in me and my program and when you get a confidence booster like that it affects my other owners as well. The confidence seems to just run through the barn.”
Ive Struck a Nerve is an example of that. Desormeaux picked him out and bought him for Bryan at an OBS sale for $82,000 last spring.
“This horse was one of the first horses I bought for him,” said Desormeaux. “In fact, he was the first 2-year-old I ever got for him. I don’t know the whole story about how the horse got his name but it had something to do with him and his wife and I know they had a lot of fun naming him.”
After breaking his maiden in his first Fair Grounds start last Nov. 24, Desormeaux put Ive Struck a Nerve in the $60,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes at six furlongs and he rallied to be easily second best despite racing five wide.
Following the Sugar Bowl, Desormeaux stretched him out to a mile and 70 yards for Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 19 and he finished fourth, beaten a half-length for third in his first graded stakes start.
An unusual but interesting bullet seven-furlong breeze on Feb. 9 in 1:29.20 eventually followed the Lecomte and Desormeaux, a 46-year-old native of Lafayette, Louisiana, was asked about that.
“Because there has been a little time between the Lecomte and this race coming up and you want him to run on the highest level, he’s going to have to be a little bit fitter,” Desormeaux said. “Of course I say that with a tad of sarcasm. I have to work this horse in company because he’s usually not a very good worker.”
A recorded five-furlong breeze in 1:00.40 last Saturday completed Ive Struck a Nerve’s serious preparations for the Risen Star.
“It was supposed to be a half, but he broke off a little early, so the time was actually pretty good,” Desormeaux said. “James Graham will ride him in the Risen Star. James has been working with him in the mornings recently and he’s really been improving lately.”
SOUTH FLORIDA SHIPPERS FOR LOUISIANA DERBY PREVIEW DAY ARRIVE TODAY
Fair Grounds stall superintendant Mario Torres is expecting the shipment of horses from South Florida for Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford to arrive late this afternoon.
“They should get here to Fair Grounds about 5 o’clock, maybe a little bit earlier,” said Torres. “There are supposed to be 10 of them on the plane.”
‘GET WELL, RACHEL’ BANNER MOVED INDOORS
A “Get Well, Rachel” banner of encouragement for 2009 Fair Grounds Oaks winner and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra has been moved inside the Clubhouse/Valet lobby for the weekend. Fans are invited to sign the banner during live racing anytime this weekend. First post for Friday’s Starlight Racing program is 5 p.m., first post for Saturday’s 13-race card is 12:30 p.m. and first post on Sunday is 1 p.m. At the end of the weekend, the banner will be shipped to Barbara Banke, owner of the Stonestreet Farm that campaigned Rachel Alexandra from her Preakness win to retirement.