The Risen Star Stakes is my favorite race this President’s Day weekend, the two other must watch races are the San Vicente at Santa Anita on Sunday and the Southwest on Monday at Oaklawn. For me, the Risen Star Stakes tomorrow has more drama and possible plot twists than an episode of Desperate Housewives. Rogue Romance is the morning line favorite, backs it up on paper and being picked to win by most every columnist and contributor in the country so he is a lock right? Then we have two horses with the blinkers off this week in Mucho Macho Man and Justin Phillip with both having poor performances last time out and not meeting expectations, this is the week they can rebound and get back on track right? Let’s not forget Decisive Moment, Machen and Santiva who are in the Risen Star Stakes for no other reason than to get to the Kentucky Derby. Oh yeah, just to add a dash of strange to the Risen Star Stakes we have Sorgho at 30-1 and Lion Drive at 50-1.
Risen Star Stakes Post Positions:
||Rogue Romance (KY)
||J R Leparoux
||K G McPeek
||T A Ice
||Decisive Moment (FL)
||K D Clark
||J D Arias
||Pants On Fire (KY)
||K J Breen
||Mucho Macho Man (FL)
||N J Howard
||M E Smith
||Action Ready (KY)
||A R Napravnik
||W B Calhoun
||Justin Phillip (KY)
||S M Asmussen
||E Martin, Jr.
||W D Bennett
Risen Star Stakes – The Pretenders: Horses not worth laying a dollar or two of your hard earned money on.
Lion Drive : Morning Line 50-1 – Lion Drive last raced in an allowance at Fair Grounds back on February 5th where in a field of eight he finished dead last after going 4 wide in the first turn and not much else after that. Won his previous race on January 7th at Fair Grounds against a field most wouldn’t be able to recognize.
Sorgho : Morning Line 30-1 – Sorgho won last time out at Sam Houston on January 31st and finished 8th at Fair Grounds on January 8th. Both times out he has faced lesser than stiff competition and going into his third race of 2011 against a field as strong as this one doesn’t add up.
Action Ready : Morning Line 12-1 – Action Ready finished third in the LeComte S behind Wilkinson and Pants on Fire while staying 1-3 lengths off the pace but fading down the stretch and finishing well back while running 1 mile forty yards on the dirt.
Risen Star Stakes – On the Bubble: Horses that could finish in the money but not win.
Justin Phillip : Morning Line 8-1 – Justin Phillip finished dead last in the LeComte S and simply had a terrible race from start to finish. Justin Phillip was last out of the gate after bobbling at the start, was in second half way through the race but then started to fade and never recovered. January 1st was a different story though when he defeated Goodtimehadbyall and Wilkinson leading the race from start to finish. The blinkers were on for the LeComte S and will be off for the Risen Star.
Pants on Fire : Morning Line 6-1 – Pants on Fire finished second in the LeComte S. to Wilkinson after Pants on Fire lead from start to finish but giving up the lead just before the wire. Back on January 1st he finished third in the Count Fleet S. behind Monzon and J J’s Lucky Train in after once again leading the majority of the race only to lose it in the straight. Should set the pace with Mucho Macho Man and Decisive Moment
Mucho Macho Man : Morning Line 4-1 – Mucho Macho Man recently ran in the Holy Bull S but was only able to finish 4th after being body checked in the chute by Leave of Absence. Mucho Macho Man still pressed the lead until the straight where he uncharacteristically ran out of gas. In the Remsen S back on November 27th he finished second trailing To Honor and Serve from start to finish while being clipped from behind by Bandbox. Should set the pace with Pants on Fire and Decisive Moment.
Santiva : Morning Line 6-1 – Santiva won the Kentucky Jockey Club S back on November 27th while sitting in second and being able to drive it home for the win ahead of Astrology and Major Gain. On October 9th he finished 2nd in the Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity where he was dead last in 11th out of the gate in a strong field but ultimately losing to J B’s Thunder while defeating Willcox Inn who finished third along with other horses worth mentioning in Major Gain and Silver Medallion.
Risen Star Stakes – The Real Deal: Horses that are in it to win it.
Rogue Romance : Morning Line 3-1 – Rogue Romance finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind Boys at Tosconova and the winner Uncle Mo. Rogue Romance ran five wide in the first turn and three wide in the second and when asked to close the gap to the finish he couldn’t make up any ground. His win prior to that was the Bourbon S. on the turf against a field that is already out of discussion for the Kentucky Derby. In both his previous races he has run 5 and 6 wide, in his time out in 2011 is Risen Star S. the race when he finally shortens the track and sticks closer to the rail? Watch for Rogue Romance and Machen to show their speed in the straight.
Decisive Moment : Morning Line 9-2 – Decisive Moment won the Jean Lafitte S back on January 14th and did so leading the way from start to finish and still having something left in the tank while crossing the finish after going 1 mile on the dirt. Decisive Moment finished second in Delta Downs Jackpot in his race prior behind Gourmet Dinner in a very solid performance; Gourmet Dinner was simply the better horse that day in what was a fairly strong field so take nothing away from his second place finish. Should set the pace with Mucho Macho Man and Pants on Fire.
Machen : Morning Line 6-1 – Machen is rapidly growing in popularity with back to back thrilling performances and being overly spirited. Machen won both his previous races breaking slow, moving up in the backstretch and then driving through the straight for the win. I personally think this is the most talented horse in the field but he is raw in comparison to other favorites in the field. Watch for Rogue Romance and Machen to show their speed in the straight.
Here is how I see this playing out:
1 Win: Machen
2 Place: Rogue Romance
3 Show: Decisive Moment
4 Wild Card: Much Macho Man – I will tell you right now this pick will likely blow up in my face and I should have picked Santiva but here is why I am going to run with Mucho Macho Man for the Risen Star Stakes. I know he is running on only 3 weeks rest after a grueling Holy Bull but in a year when most horses are only doing 2 prep races before the Kentucky Derby there has to be one that gets there the hard way and that is Mucho Macho Man. He stands tall with long legs and can handle the distance but in his last two races he first had his heel clipped from behind and bumped hard at the start during the Holy Bull which I think led to his uncharacteristic performance more than anything else and I am guessing why the barn is sending him out again in the Risen Star Stakes just three weeks later. Fact is he has finished second to To Honor and Serve twice and might have been right at the wire with him if he hadn’t had his heel clipped and this is why I picked him for the wild card in the Risen Star Stakes.