Expert picks: Risen Star Stakes 2020 predictions, longshots

February 14, 2020 05:14pm
Fair Grounds' Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes will run Saturday as split divisions for the fourth time overall and the first time since 1995, creating a scenario in which two winners figure to qualify for the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

The 1 1/8-mile races total 23 entries and will run as Race 12 (6:38 p.m. ET) and Race 13 (7:12 p.m. ET) on a stakes-laden card in New Orleans. Below, Horse Racing Nation contributors shared their picks, with free past performances available to help form your opinions.



Jeff Byrnes

Win pick: #2 Silver Slate

Analysis: With plenty of speed on tap in this race, Silver Slate is a late closer with an inside post and a trainer who knows how to win this race. Pedigree should be no problem, as he's by Hard Spun. He has been turning in steady and modest works leading in. Sulver State should run a big one. I'll go with a superfecta with Silver Slate on top, andFarmington Road, Scabbard, and Moon over Miami on the ticket.

Nick Costa


Win pick: 
#1 Digital

Analysis: I will play a straight win bet on Digital and exacta box him with Enforceable


Ryan Dickey

Win pick: # 1 Digital

Analysis: The two Risen Star races couldn't look more different on paper. This one appears to have the better overall talent but is mostly devoid of an early pressured pace. I'm stuck between Digital and Silver State, so if they go off close to morning line odds, I'll take the higher price. If the early pace is hot -- imagine Ready to Roll, a Bret Calhoun stablemate, sets some fast fractions to help Digital -- it's Mark Casse-trained Enforceable looms as the other beneficiary. Using Scabbard underneath in trifectas as well, consider a trifecta wheel of 1,2 over 1,2,8,11 over 1,2,8,11.

Jarrod Horak

Win pick: #10 Farmington Road

Analysis: Farmington Road is on the upswing for Todd Pletcher. He projects an outside stalking trip and can spring the upset over Lecomte top three finishers Enforceable, Silver State, and Mr. Monomoy. I will bet him to win and play him in exactas with the three aforementioned Lecomte runners. 

Reinier Macatangay

Win pick: #7 Blackberry Wine

Analysis: As part of a horizontal play, Blackberry Wine will be used along with Moon Over Miami and Enforceable. Also, Silver State is a possible B or C option.

Mark Midland

Win pick: #2 Silver State

Analysis: I'm also looking for a big race from Bill Mott's entry, Moon Over Miami, who could be 20-1 in here. I'll play a $2 trifecta 1-2-8 with 1,2,6,8,9 with 5 and $1 trifecta 1,2,8 with 5 with 1,2,5,6,8,9,11.

Olivia Newman

Win pick : #8 Enforceable 

Analysis: Enforceable looks much the best on paper as he comes into form. He finally put it together in the Lecomte and looked professional doing it. He’s out of a producing machine and by a super sire. It’s hard not to back him. Blackberry Wine and Mr. Monomoy will be looming threats in the stretch. If Digital can stay out of traffic trouble, he could contend as well. He ran a strong second to Blackberry Wine last time.

Victor Ryan

Win pick: #2 Silver State

Analysis: Silver State was this handicapper's pick in the Lecomte, and I'm firing right back. Though beaten on the square by Enforceable last time, Silver State bobbled at the break, leaving him well off a modest pace, was fanned six-wide entering the stretch and then dug in late to get second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths. It was just Silver State's third start, and he is eligible to move forward with the education. While Enforceable was really impressive in the Lecomte, I'll gamble on Silver State to win and key in the exotics. Exacta box: 1,2,8; trifecta 2/1,8,11/1,8,11; 1,8,11/2/1,8,11; 1,8,11/1,8,11/2; superfecta box: 1,2,8,11.



Jeff Byrnes

Win pick: # 11 Mailman Money 

Analysis: At 2-for-2 coming in, this horse won by five lengths in his two-turn debut and looked to have something left. He will be close to the pace and should get a good trip, sitting off horses and taking first run turning for home. These connections have won major Derby preps before at Fair Grounds. Mailman Money will have to overcome the wide post, but this horse has been training well. I'll play a superfecta of Mailman Money, Anneau d'Or, Modernist and Liam's Lucky Charm.

Nick Costa


Win pick: 
#8 Anneau d'Or

Analysis: I will key Anneau d'Or in a trifecta over  Liam's Lucky Charm, Major Fed and Finnick the Fierce


Ryan Dickey

Win pick: #10 Finnick the Fierce

Analysis: This race should have a contested early lead, setting the table for an off-the-pace type to mow down tiring rivals late. Finnick the Fierce fits the bill perfectly. He's a late charger, and this race sets up perfectly for him at what should be a very nice price. Anneau d'Or will be highly over-bet. Major Fed is useful in exactas and trifectas. Of the expected frontrunners who figure to fade, I'd use Mailman Money, who looks to improve more than the others. I'm trifecta keying the 10 over 7 and 11 or boxing all three.

Jarrod Horak

Win pick: #8 Anneau d'Or

Analysis: Anneau d'Or adds blinkers and attracts Joel Rosario, and he looks too fast and classy for this group. I will key him on top in the exotics over Mr. Big News, Excession, and Lynn's Map.  

Reinier Macatangay

Win pick: #11 Mailman Money

Analysis: Only three horses are usable for a horizontal wager: Major Fed, Anneau d'Or and Mailman Money. Alternatively, an exacta box with those three horses might pay a decent amount, especially with Major Fed at 10-1 and Mailman Money at 8-1. If those latter two are over-bet though, then forget the exotic wager.

Mark Midland

Win pick: #11 Mailman Money 

Analysis: Anneau d'Or looks tough but isn't invincible. I'm going to take a shot with Mailman Money but use both of these on top. There are a couple live longshots for third. I'll play a 
$1 trifecta 8-11 with 7-8-10-11 with 3-4-6-7.

Olivia Newman

Win pick : #8 Anneau d’Or

Anneau d’Or is sitting on his first graded win. He has run two great races on the dirt and looks like a serious racehorse. With the addition of blinkers and a new jockey in Joel Rosario, I think we’re going to see a star emerge. Mr. Big News and Finnick the Fierce are two longshot contenders bred to excel at longer distances. They could hit the board at a price.

Victor Ryan

Win pick: #7, Major Fed

Analysis: Morning line favorite Anneau d'Or could be the goods, but I'll try and beat him with recent maiden winner Major Fed. The Ghostzapper colt showed a big closing kick in that Jan. 1 victory at Fair Grounds, rallying into a slow pace to win going away by 4 1/2 lengths. It was just his second start and first around two turns. The stretch out to nine furlongs could suit. I'll bet him to win and tie in with Anneau d'Or and Liam's Lucky Charm in the exotics. Exacta box: 5,7,11; trifecta key: 7/1,5,11; 1,5,11/7/1,5,11; 1,5,11/1,5,11/7.

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