Don Benge’s Maximus Ruler,
runner-up in Fair Grounds’ Grade III Lecomte Jan. 23 after inheriting an
unwanted pacesetting scenario, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.60 Sunday morning
in preparation for next Saturday’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes as the
showcase race on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.
“The idea is to get him to relax,” said
trainer Clark Hanna, “so we broke him off at the half-mile pole this
morning, let him go to the seven-eighths and then let him gallop out the rest
of the way on his own. He came back bucking and squealing so we might want to
send him out again to go a quarter-mile on Thursday just to keep him relaxed.
“I’d really like to see some speed in
Saturday’s race to give him something to run at,” said Hanna. “The last time
(in the Lecomte) we thought there was a speed horse in there (Cool Bullet) but
then they took him back and we ended up on the lead. (Maximus Ruler) is not
going to be able to go 46 and change (his half split in the Lecomte) and still
win this race Saturday, but we think we can get him to improve off of that.”
Saturday’s $300,000 Risen Star Stakes
serves as the final designed local prep for the Grade II Louisiana Derby March 27,
which with its new higher purse of $750,000 will be the richest
Thoroughbred race ever run in Louisiana.