Expert picks: Risen Star 2019 predictions, longshots

Expert picks: Risen Star 2019 predictions, longshots
Photo: Hodges Photography
Major Kentucky Derby 2019 preps begin Saturday with the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star, which awards 50 qualifying points to its winner -- enough to make the field on the first Saturday in May -- and also serves as a springboard to Fair Grounds' Louisiana Derby (G2).

There are a number of compelling story lines within an expected field of 14, and they begin with the favorite, War of Will, who will break from a near-outside post position while looking to back up last month's commanding victory in the Lecomte Stakes (G3).

A number of others from the Lecomte are back for another try, while fourth-place Breeders' Cup Juvenile finisher Mr. Money comes off the layoff, stakes winner Henley's Joy switches from the turf, Owendale enters off a sharp allowance score, and Country House, at 20-1 on the morning line, could prove he's the real deal for trainer Bill Mott.

Post time for the Risen Star, carded as the 12th and final race of the day in New Orleans, is 7:02 p.m. ET. Here's how the Horse Racing Nation crew handicapped it:

Jarrod Horak, Pick 6 Blog

Winner: #9 Country House

On the board: #3 Mr. Money, #14 War of Will

Longshot I like: #12 Frolic More

Analysis: Country House blew the break and overcame a slow pace to easily graduate in visually impressive fashion on Jan. 17. He did not get much pace help in either of his dirt starts but ran extremely well both times. Mr. Money was my top choice in the Lecomte, but he got sick and scratched out of that event. He tries to become the fourth next-out points race stakes winner from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. War of Will must work out a trip from a tough post. He looked super in his last two dirt wins including an easy score in the Lecomte. Owendale exits a fast local optional claiming route win over a good main track. Frolic More was a clear second to Owendale last time, and that was a very promising sophomore bow.

The Plays: #9 to win; exacta 3-8-9/14; superfecta 3-9/3-9-14/ALL/3-8-9-12-14.

Casey Laughter, The Tattooed Tracksider

Winner: #1 Plus Que Parfait

On the board: #14 War of Will, #3 Mr. Money

Longshot I like: #8 Owendale

Analysis: While I think War of Will is the best horse in the field and has the most potential, he has drawn outside from a post that doesn't produce many winners given the short run up to the first turn. Therefore, I am looking toward the rail with my selection. Plus Que Parfait had a terrible trip in the Lecomte after a nice Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) runner-up and looks eligible to rebound here.

Reinier Macatangay, Setting the Pace

Winner: #9 Country House

On the board: #14 War of Will, #6 Hog Creek Hustle

Longshot I like: #1 Plus Que Parfait

Analysis: Country House almost ran down Kentucky Wildcat two starts ago, and the latter went on to finish a strong second in the Sam F. Davis (G3) last weekend. If Country House repeats the field-high 115 TimeformUS Speed Figure earned at Aqueduct, he can mow down this field late for the win. Also include War of Will as an A option in horizontals for more obvious reasons, as he won the Lecomte by four lengths.

Christine Oser (@cb_oser)

Winner: #14. War of Will

On the board: #8 Owendale, #3 Mr. Money

Longshot I like: #6 Hog Creek Hustle

Analysis: If War of Will runs like he did in the Lecomte, he's going to be tough to beat regardless of his post position, and he put in a sharp half-mile work in 47.20 for this race. Owendale looks primed for the step up with an optional claiming win and a strong second before that, while Breeders' Cup Juvenile fourth-place finisher Mr. Money can some noise should he relish the three-month layoff. I gave up on Hog Creek Hustle in the Lecomte, but if the favorites don't hold up near the front, this late runner could grab a piece of the action again.


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