Another Star shines in New Orleans - International Star wins again

February 21, 2015 01:57pm


The 2015 Kentucky Derby trail marched through New Orleans this afternoon for the Grade 2 Risen Star, and for the second time in as many Fair Grounds’ preps, it pointed out International Star as a major threat come the first Saturday in May. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus scraped the paint to a score a one length victory over his now familiar foe, War Story.

International Star, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Michael Maker, was sent off as the 7-2 third choice in the field of nine. Ridden by Miguel Mena, and breaking from the far outside, International Star was able to angle into the rail as the Risen Star field hit the first turn. (More on this move to come later.) He found a comfortable spot in the middle of the pack down the backstretch, as a pair of longshots carved out a legitimate early pace.

Meanwhile, War Story , also 7-2 on the tote, found some traffic heading into the first turn, but soon after tucked in nicely, just a little behind International Star, for the run down the backstretch. The pair moved up nicely on the far turn, with International Star hugging the rail, and War Story swinging to the far outside.

Turning for home, there were some tense moments for the eventual winner, as there was not a big hole between the fence and the leader, St. Joe Bay, but International Star pushed his way through to take the lead. From there, it was just a matter if he could hold off the rallying War Story on the outside, but he had plenty left after the ground saving trip to secure his second straight stakes score at Fair Grounds.

I think more distance will be no problem,” said the winning rider, Mena. “He rates well, he loves the rail; it doesn’t matter how tight the hole is – he goes for it.  When I put him on the rail, he grabs the bit and when we come up to a tight hole, he just goes for it.  Not many horses do it.  The more you save, the more you’re going to get.  He’s not much to look at it, but he has a big heart.”

The International Star over War Story exacta was a repeat of the finish in the Grade 3 Lecomte result of five weeks ago. The exact order of this exacta did have to wait, though, as the stewards looked at a claim of foul lodged by War Story’s rider, Kent Desormeaux. Sure enough, his horse was impeded and pinched back heading into the first turn by the eventual winner, but it was decided the infraction was not enough to change the order of finish.

International Star rewarded his many backers with a $9.60 payout for a two dollar win bet. He covered the 8 ½ furlongs over the fast main track in 1:43.82, which was .28 faster than the impressive victory by I’m A Chatterbox in the Rachel Alexandra stakes one race earlier on the card. The Risen Star was International Star’s 4th victory in 8 lifetime starts, and pushed his career bankroll over the half-million dollar mark.

1 ¾ lengths farther back, Keen Ice, of Donegal Stables, rallied well down the lane from last to just get up for third place money over the game early leader, St. Joe Bay. Race favorite, Imperia, never really threatened and came home a disappointing fifth.

As part of the first day of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, International Star earned 50 all-important points toward entry into the starting gate of the Run for the Roses, and with 71 points overall, he is the points leader, and a certainty to make the field, provided he stays healthy.


International Star’s trainer was confident going into the race, and plans on keeping him on the New Orleans path to Louisville. “He was doing super and he ran as advertised,” said Maker. “I wasn’t worried about the post.  Realistically I thought we had an outside trip and we wound up having a trip like in the Lecomte turning for home looked.” On coming back for the Louisiana Derby: “Not going to change routes for him; he loves it (at Fair Grounds) and there’s no reason to change course.” 


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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