Head to Head: Handicapping the 2020 Risen Star Stakes

February 13, 2020 04:05pm
Head to Head: Handicapping the 2020 Risen Star Stakes
Photo: Hodges Photography/Jan Brubaker
With Saturday's Risen Star Stakes (G2) splitting into two divisions, our "Head to Head" handicapping feature will take on a bit of a different look. Rather than compare and contrast our selections, Horse Racing Nation pedigree analyst Laurie Ross and I will each analyze one of the fields at Fair Grounds.

Post times for the 1 1/8-mile races are 6:38 p.m. ET (Division 1, Race 12) and 7:12 p.m. ET (Division 2, Race 13) with 2020 Kentucky Derby qualifying points paying out on a 50-20-10-5 basis to the Top 4 finishers of both races.

Ashley (Division 1)
Laurie (Division 2)
1. Digital1. Modernist
A maiden winner, Digital finished second to Blackberry Wine in their last outing. The effort was good, as was his speed figure, which equaled Enforceable’s number in the Lecomte (G3). The rail post will likely be a problem, and I certainly like others better.  

This son of Uncle Mo is the only one in the race with a win at the distance. He’s the first foal out of a half-sister to 2004 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Sweet Catomine, and 2009 Breeders’ Cup Distaff heroine Life is Sweet. The Bill Mott trainee is among many who want the lead. Exotics contender. 

 2. Silver State 2. Truculent 
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Silver State ran second to the highly regarded Enforceable in his graded stakes debut. His speed figure for that race is only the fourth-best last race number, but it at least came in graded company. He could grab a piece of the pie once again.

Word is this one will scratch. If not, he should handle the distance. However, the Jack Sisterson trainee will be jumping to nine furlongs and trying stakes company for his 3-year-old debut. He may want to fight it out on the front end with a couple of others in here. Seems up against it. Pass. 

 3. Ready to Roll 3. Mr. Big News 
Going straight to the lead helped this son of City Zip finally break his maiden, but is he simply cheap speed? His distaff family holds black type in the sprint division, but that 7 ½-length victory was rather flashy. Maybe he can stretch out.

Giant’s Causeway’s son needed every inch of the Fair Grounds Stretch to break his maiden at 1 1/16 miles. He was wide on the far turn and had to alter course a couple of times, but was up to win by a nose. Despite his immediate family’s turf affinities, the Bret Calhoun charge stretches out like a dirt horse and should love classic distances. Longshot contender.

 4. Perfect Revenge 4. Fame to Famous
There’s nothing here that excites me. This colt shows one win in eight starts, and that victory came on Woodbine’s synthetic. His speed figures have been far from consistent. Pass.

The bay son of Tapit has been just so-so over the lawn. Now he gets a shot on dirt. His Pioneerof the Nile half brother was third in two starts on dirt, and their stakes-winning turf miler dam is a half-sister to He’s Had Enough, runner-up in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Fame to Famous had no excuse in the Pulpit Stakes last out. He got a perfect rail trip ride under Luis Saez, yet tired in the stretch as Sam F. Davis (G3) hero Sole Valante stormed by. Pass.

 5. Moon Over Miami 5. Liam's Lucky Charm
The maiden victory for this one looked good, but it would seem Moon Over Miami just likes Aqueduct. He didn’t do much at Belmont or Gulfstream. Oddly, after a series of works in Florida, his last registered breeze was in New York.

The runaway winner of Tampa Bay Downs’ Pasco Stakes stretches out for the second time in his career. Last September in his two-turn debut, Liam’s Lucky Charm was a distant third, beaten 10 lengths by fellow Florida-bred Chance It. The Ralph Nicks trainee has a sprinter/miler pedigree and pace-setting/pressing style. Pass.

 6. Shashashakemeup 6. Excession
By Shackleford, Shashashakemeup was part of the pace in the Lecomte but finished a tired sixth. His last two races indicate to me that he’s in over his head.

Excession has raced for five months without a break, winning once in seven starts. He lost ground in the Lecomte (G3) when finishing seventh, eight lengths behind Enforcable. Pass.

 7. Blackberry Wine 7. Major Fed
He may not look like much initially, but this colt has some back class in his pedigree. It took him a few starts and some surface changes to figure things out, but he hasn’t put in a truly bad race since his debut when he proved green. He’s won on a sloppy and a fast track, so no matter the weather, he should bring his A game. The early running style helps, too. Perhaps.

By Ghostzapper out of a Smart Strike mare, Major Fed has the pedigree to run all day. He was wide the entire way in his last race and still won by a comfortable 4 1/4 lengths. He’ll get a class test but is worth a look as a live longshot.

 8. Enforceable 8. Anneau d'Or
I was not too high on Enforceable in the Lecomte, but I am definitely singing a different tune now. The sustained move he made to win that race was impressive; he did not blow by the competition, but he without a doubt put them away in deep stretch. Given that he should get a similar trip in this race and more ground to go, I have to back him wholeheartedly here. Win contender.

Anneau d’Or is a neck and head from being undefeated. He gave Thousand Words all he could handle in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) after nearly upsetting in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Trainer Blane Wright’s charge has the class and pedigree to handle these easily. The concerning factor, of course, is fitness. Anneau d’Or has logged four brisk stamina works since January. Win contender.

 9. Mr. Monomoy 9. Lynn's Map
Like Enforceable, I left Mr. Monomoy out of my selections in the Lecomte and paid dearly for it. He encountered some traffic troubles due to an inside trip, but once clear, he simply did not finish as well Enforceable and Silver State. I do not think he will win, but leaving him out of the superfecta would be risky.

By Liam’s Map out of a multiple stakes-winning sprinter, Lynn’s Map is up against it in the nine-furlong Risen Star. His pace-pressing style and post means he’ll likely be wide. Pass.

 10. Farmington Road  10. Finnick the Fierce
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Farmington Road has been track hopping and will be on his fourth different surface in as many starts. Nothing about his record excites me exiting a maiden win at Tampa Bay Downs. Pass. 

Everyone has a soft spot for the underhorse, er, dog. The one-eyed Finnick the Fierce tries hard, and he’s one of those types whose late rush occasionally wins races, but more often settles for a minor placing. Exotics contender. 

 11. Scabbard  11. Mailman Money 
I had hoped for more from this colt in the Lecomte based on his experience in graded company. Maybe he improves to crack the superfecta off his fifth place finish last out, but he faces three of the four rivals that out-finished him last time. Exotics player at best.

By Goldencents out of an Unbridled’s Song mare, Mailman Money has a solid miler/middle distance pedigree. The Bret Calhoun trainee is undefeated in both starts, and his Brisnet late pace speed figures are high. The only thing against him is post 11, but Gabriel Saez is a hot jock. In the last year, he’s won or placed in 12 of 15 starts. Contender.

  12. NY Traffic

NY Traffic showed huge improvement while winning an optional claimer by 6 3/4 lengths on the barn change to 31% trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. The pretty gray son of Cross Traffic has a miler pedigree and will have to go from the far outside. Note that Joseph Jr. has won one of nine starts in graded stakes at a route in the last year. Pass.

Ashley's Division 1 final thoughts: This makes for an intriguing Lecomte rematch, and I’ll give the edge to horses coming out of that race. I expect to see Shashashakemeup, Blackberry Wine and Ready to Roll up front with Mr. Monomoy close. Shashashakemeup and Ready to Roll will likely fade in the stretch. Enforceable will obviously come from behind with one long move with Silver State somewhere in between.

Laurie's Division 2 final thoughts: Pedigree and whether a contender gained or lost ground in their last start are the best indications of getting nine furlongs. Stating the obvious, Anneau d'Or is the one to beat. I’m not confident that he’ll win a head-to-head battle, but if he outclasses them, he should take the second division of the Risen Star.  Any of the last out maiden winners could jump up and run a huge race.


 Ashley (Division 1) Laurie (Division 2)
 #8 Enforceable #8 Anneau d'Or
 #9 Mr. Monomoy #1 Modernist
 #2 Siver State #11 Mailman Money
 #7 Blackberry Wine #7 Major Fed


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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, which led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation covering racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues and, from time to time, offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry. A move North to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the From Coast to Coast blog for HRN. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband, Chris, and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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