Win-and-you’re-in season is upon us for Kentucky Derby 2023.
Victory Formation is the 3-1 morning-line favorite for the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes. Post time from Fair Grounds is scheduled for 7:14 p.m. EST, with FanDuel TV showing the 1 1/8-mile stakes for 3-year-olds.
Click here for Fair Grounds entries and results.
The Risen Star awards points toward the Kentucky Derby starting gates on a 50-20-15-10-5 scale. Since Churchill Downs instituted its points system before the 2013 Derby, 50 points have been enough to make the field each year.
Favorite Victory Formation is one of three Risen Star entries for trainer Brad Cox, joined by stablemates Tapit’s Conquest (6-1) and Angel of Empire (8-1).
Victory Formation brings a 3-for-3 record into his graded-stakes debut. He took to the Derby trail New Year’s Day at Oaklawn in the Smarty Jones Stakes, backing up 3-5 favoritism with a three-length win over Angel of Empire.
Jockey Flavien Prat travels to Louisiana to retain the mount Saturday on Victory Formation. Spendthrift Farm and Frank Fletcher Racing Operations campaign the son of 2017 Belmont Stakes hero Tapwrit.
Tapit’s Conquest finished second Jan. 21 in a salty local allowance race won by fellow Risen Star starter Determinedly (8-1) for trainer Mark Casse. Third-place finisher Silver Heist (12-1) for trainer Steve Asmussen also exits that 1 1/16-mile event.
Another Asmussen entry, Harlocap (8-1), makes his first start Saturday for North America’s all-time winningest trainer. He was previously trained by Bob Baffert, for whom he broke his maiden on third asking Jan. 22 at Santa Anita.
Curly Jack (8-1) began the points-paying Kentucky Derby trail in September by winning the Iroquois Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs. The Tom Amoss trainee was runner-up there in his last start, the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) on Nov. 26.
The fifth 8-1 shot in the field is Two Phil’s for trainer Larry Rivelli. The Grade 3 winner finished as runner-up to Instant Coffee on Jan. 21 in the local Lecomte Stakes (G3).
Mandaloun won the 2021 Risen Star Stakes and is now recognized by Churchill Downs as the winner of that spring’s Kentucky Derby due to Medina Spirit’s disqualification.
Country House, who also was elevated from second to first in a Kentucky Derby, crossed second in the 2019 Risen Star. 2002 Derby hero War Emblem was sixth that winter in the Risen Star.
The horses who finished first through fifth in the 2022 Risen Star all made the Kentucky Derby field and four of them finished in the top eight at Churchill. Risen Star victor Epicenter was second in the Derby to long shot winner Rich Strike.
Here is a look at the field for the 2023 Risen Star Stakes (trainers and jockeys in parentheses) with morning-line odds:
1. Quiet as Midnight (Benard Chatters, Emmanuel Nieves), 50-1
2. Single Ruler (Keith Desormeaux, Jose Riquelme), 30-1
3. Shaq Diesel (Renaldo Richards, Adam Beschizza), 30-1
4. Determinedly (Mark Casse, Reylu Gutierrez), 8-1
5. Harlocap (Steve Asmussen, John Velazquez), 8-1
6. Angel of Empire (Brad Cox, Luis Saez), 8-1
7. Sun Thunder (Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr.), 15-1
8. Tapit’s Conquest (Brad Cox, Florent Geroux), 6-1
9. Curly Jack (Tom Amoss, Edgar Morales), 8-1
10. Two Phil’s (Larry Rivelli, Jareth Loveberry), 8-1
11. Silver Heist (Steve Asmussen, Corey Lanerie), 12-1
12. Crupi (Todd Pletcher, James Graham), 15-1
13. Victory Formation (Brad Cox, Flavien Prat), 3-1
14. Private Creed (Steve Asmussen, Tyler Gaffalione), 12-1
TimeformUS pace projections show Victory Formation going out to the lead under Prat and setting a fast pace, followed by Harlocap.
Visit Horse Racing Nation’s free past performances page for more information on the Risen Star and some of the day’s other key stakes.
Kentucky Derby trail links
Reinier Macatangay makes his Risen Star pick, writing that Tapit’s Conquest offers better value than favored stablemate Victory Formation. Macatangay also wrote after last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby preps that Hit Show took a next step with his Withers Stakes (G3) win.
Matt Shifman looks at all 14 Risen Star starters, identifying a live long shot from trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn. Laurie Ross and Ashley Tamulonis also go head to head handicapping the Risen Star, with each landing on a winner who is not the morning-line favorite.
Ed DeRosa labels the Risen Star Stakes as a bettor’s bonanza with its full field of 14 horses, 13 of which he sees as playable.
Trainer Tom Amoss has two promising 3-year-olds running at Fair Grounds between Curly Jack in the Risen Star Stakes and Hoosier Philly in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2). Hear from the Kentucky Oaks (G1)-winning trainer on the Ron Flatter Racing Pod.
Although its reputation for being kind to closers has been compromised in recent years by the horses who made it to the Fair Grounds winner’s circle, most of the Risen Star starters who did well in the Kentucky Derby came from off the pace.
The biggest wagering weekend of February is anchored by Louisiana Derby preview day on Saturday at the Fair Grounds, and Mike Shutty's Super Screener is getting in on the action with full coverage of the Pick 6 that ends with the Risen Star Stakes.
HorseCenter hosts Shifman and Brian Zipse handicap the Risen Star Stakes and other big races on tap Saturday at Fair Grounds.
When does the Kentucky Derby trail actually start? Ron Flatter writes that for all intents and purposes, however intents and purposes are found these days, the road starts this weekend with the Risen Star.
Victory Formation is among J. Keeler Johnson’s watch list horses in action this weekend, five of whom will race at Fair Grounds.
Fair Grounds’ Risen Star card includes an allowance race at 4:33 p.m. EST for 3-year-olds who could later appear on the Kentucky Derby trail. Macatangay identifies a trio of rivals who can beat favored Godolphin runner Banishing.
Arctic Arrogance, No. 8 on the Kentucky Derby 2023 leaderboard but second in his last three races, could make his next start in the March 4 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct.
Prospective Kentucky Derby field
The top 18 points earners nominated for the Kentucky Derby will earn a spot in the starting gates for the Grade 1, $3 million race May 6. One spot is reserved for the top points earners on the European and Japanese Derby trails. Here is a look at who would make up the current field.
1. Forte, 40
2. Instant Coffee, 32
3. Rocket Can, 20
4. Hit Show, 20
5. Litigate, 20
6. Curly Jack, 17
7. Blazing Sevens, 16
8. Arctic Arrogance, 16
9. Jace’s Road, 15
10. Red Route One, 13
11. Victory Formation, 10
12. Dubyuhnell, 10
13. Practical Move, 10
14. Lugan Knight, 10
15. General Banker, 9
16. Two Phil’s, 8
17. Shadow Dragon, 8
18. Denington, 8
Japan. Derma Sotogake
Kentucky Oaks trail
A Kentucky Oaks (G1) berth for 3-year-old fillies can also be effectively secured Saturday at Fair Grounds. Here is a look at the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2), which awards Oaks points on a 50-20-15-10-5 scale.
6:41 p.m. – $300,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes (G2), 1 1/16 miles, Fair Grounds
Hoosier Philly (6-5) won all three of her starts as a juvenile, including Churchill Downs’ Golden Rod Stakes (G2) on Nov. 26 by five lengths over runner-up Knockyoursocksoff. Jockey Edgar Morales retains the mount on the Into Mischief filly for trainer Tom Amoss. Brad Cox trains Chop Chop (8-5), a Kentucky Downs stakes winner who was second Jan. 21 in the local Silverbulletday Stakes. Pretty Mischievous (9-2) won the local Untapable Stakes on Dec. 26 at Fair Grounds for trainer Brendan Walsh, one start after finishing third in the Golden Rod.
Prospective Kentucky Oaks field
The top 14 points earners nominated for the Kentucky Oaks will earn a spot in the starting gates for the $1.25 million race May 5. Here is a look at who would make up the current field.
1. Wonder Wheel, 48
2. The Alys Look, 24
3. Red Carpet Ready, 20
4. Wet Paint, 20
5. Dreaming of Snow, 20
6. Occult, 20
7. Julia Shining, 16
8. Leave No Trace, 15
9. Pretty Mischievous, 13
10. Chop Chop, 12
11. Ice Dancing, 12
12. Pride of the Nile, 12
13. Raging Sea, 11
14. Gambling Girl, 11
Other Saturday stakes
Here is a look at other graded stakes taking place Saturday across the U.S. All post times are EST and races can be seen on FanDuel TV.
3:58 p.m. – $250,000 Barbara Fritchie Stakes (G3), 4-and-up fillies and mares, seven furlongs, Laurel Park
Fille d’Esprit (5-2) aims to make the grade Saturday for trainer John Robb after winning the local What A Summer Stakes on Jan. 21. Jockey Xavier Perez will ride the 7-year-old Great Notion mare who was third in last year’s Fritchie. George Weaver trains Pass the Champagne (3-1), who returned from a layoff of more than 11 months to finish second Jan. 14 at Tampa Bay in the Wayward Lass Stakes. Union Lake (3-1) finished her 3-year-old season by winning a New Year’s Eve allowance race at Aqueduct for trainer John Terranova II.
Related: Pass the Champagne and Union Lake lead Barbara Fritchie
4:29 p.m. – $250,000 General George Stakes (G3), 4-and-up, seven furlongs, Laurel Park
Factor It In (5-2) has won back-to-back Laurel Park stakes for trainer Carlos Mancilla, including the Fire Plug on Jan. 21. Jockey Angel Cruz gets the call on the 7-year-old son of The Factor. Beren (3-1) has won stakes races across the Mid-Atlantic for trainer Butch Reid and enters off a Jan. 31 allowance score at Parx. Pirate Rick (7-2) made his graded debut Jan. 28 in Aqueduct’s Toboggan Stakes (G3), finishing fourth for trainer Norman Cash.
Related: Saturday moment of silence will honor jockey Avery Whisman
5:06 p.m. – $150,000 Royal Delta Stakes (G3), 4-and-up fillies and mares, 1 1/16 miles, Gulfstream Park
Kathleen O. (7-5) returns to the track where she swept the 2022 Davona Dale Stakes (G2) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for trainer Shug McGaughey. Jockey Javier Castellano gets the call on the 4-year-old Upstart filly, who was second Nov. 25 at Aqueduct in the Comely Stakes (G3). Todd Pletcher trains Classy Edition (3-2), last year’s Davona Dale runner-up, who returned off a layoff of more than nine months to win a local allowance race Jan. 11. Tap Dance Fever (5-1) has won back-to-back races for trainer Gerald Bennett, including the Wayward Lass.
Related: Kathleen O. returns to Gulfstream in Saturday's Royal Delta
5:37 p.m. – $250,000 Mineshaft Stakes (G3), 4-and-up, 1 1/16 miles, Fair Grounds
Happy American (7-2) has been the runner to beat thus far in Fair Grounds’ series of two-turn stakes for older dirt runners, winning December’s Tenacious Stakes and the Louisiana Stakes (G3) on Jan. 21. Jockey James Graham and trainer Neil Pessin team up with the 5-year-old Runhappy gelding. Brad Cox trains Tawny Port (4-1), a two-time Grade 3 winner who returns for his first start since settling for 10th in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) on Sept. 24 at Parx. Pioneer of Medina (9-2) finished second New Year’s Eve at Gulfstream Park in the Harlan’s Holiday Stakes (G3).
5:42 p.m. – $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3), 4-and-up, 1 1/16 miles, Oaklawn
West Will Power (2-1), winner of Keeneland’s Fayette Stakes (G2) last October, makes his first start since finishing second, 3/4 lengths shy of winner Proxy, Nov. 25 in the Clark Stakes (G1) at Churchill Downs. Jockey Joel Rosario will be up on the 6-year-old son of Bernardini for Cox. Peter Miller trains Ginobili (5-2), a Grade 2 victor who took the local Fifth Season Stakes on Jan. 14. Law Professor (7-2), another Grade 2 winner, ships southwest for trainer Rob Atras after winning the Queens County Stakes on Jan. 7 at Aqueduct.
Related: West Will Power is early favorite in contentious Razorback
6:09 p.m. – $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes presented by Horse Racing Nation (G3), 4-and-up, about 1 1/8 miles (turf), Fair Grounds
Two Emmys (3-1), a Grade 1 hero for trainer Hugh Robertson, returned off a nearly seven-month layoff Jan. 21 to run second in the local Colonel E.R. Bradley Stakes. Graham will climb aboard the 7-year-old English Channel gelding. Bret Calhoun trains Gentle Soul (7-2), winner of the Colonel E.R. Bradley by a half-length over Two Emmys. Grade 2 victor Tiz the Bomb (9-2) makes his first start since running fourth Aug. 5 at Saratoga in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) for trainer Kenny McPeek.