Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra
is due to run at Fair Grounds in the New Orleans Ladies March 13, but well
before that – on Feb. 20 – the Crescent City oval hosts Louisiana Derby
Preview Day, featuring six stakes races on the same day, four of which are
Serving as the centerpiece of next
weekend’s all-star afternoon is the 37th running of the Grade II Risen Star
Stakes, which with its new higher grading and richer purse of $300,000
is sure to attract some of the nation’s top 3-year-olds as the final local prep
for the Grade II Louisiana Derby
Jack Hammer’s Ron the Greek, who
won the Grade III Lecomte, first leg of Fair Grounds’ sophomore series on Jan.
23, is expected to continue his quest to sweep the local series by winning the
Risen Star, but his expected competition continues to grow. In addition to Maximus
Ruler, the runner-up in the Lecomte, owned by Don Benge, Clark Hanna and
Mike Bell, the Lecomte’s third-place finisher Letsgetitonmon, owned by
Bob Zollars and Mark Wagner, is also expected to come back in the Risen Star.
Other early bird nominations to the
Louisiana Derby expected for the Risen Star are Richard, Bertram and Elaine
Klein’s Stay Put, impressive when winning a two-turn $50,000
optional claiming race here Jan. 3, and Jay Em Ess Stable’s Worldly,
second in that same event. Sam-Son Farms’ Hotep, much the best in a
similar race Feb. 1 at the local oval, completes the early bird grouping on
track for the Risen Star.
Now nominated to the Risen Star since
the closing of early bird Louisiana Derby nominations are WinStar Farm’s Drosselmeyer,
conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, who was much the best in
a first-level allowance race at Gulfstream Jan. 31; Paul Robsham’s Discreetly
Mine, trained by Todd Pletcher and fourth in Gulfstream’s $100,000
Spectacular Bid Stakes Jan. 9 despite a troubled trip; and Gainesway Stable’s Tempted
to Tapit, an 11 1/2-length winner when breaking his maiden at Aqueduct in
his last start Jan. 18.