Fair Grounds: Risen Star Showcases Another Derby Contender

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D.S. Williamson

February 21st, 2018

Two Kentucky Derby prep races were the highlight of this past President's Day Weekend. The Fair Grounds in Louisiana ran the Risen Star Stakes. Oaklawn Park in Arkansas ran the Southwest Stakes. Only one, the Risen Star, produced what should be a true Derby contender.

What happened in the Southwest? I write some words about that prep.  First, check out my analysis of the 2018 Risen Star.

2018 Risen Star Stakes

Win:  Bravazo

Place:  Snapper Sinclair

Show:  Noble Indy

Fourth:  Instilled Regard

The race turned into a merry-go-round after Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair got away with a :47.96 half-mile. Bravazo never looked like a loser at any point in the race. Snapper Sinclair sure produced a huge effort almost holding off Bravazo. However, Bravazo beat Snapper Sinclair by a nose.

Bravazo is a legitimate Derby contender. His sire, Awesome Again, won the Breeders' Cup Classic. He's got Cee's Tizzy on his broodmare's side. Cee's Tizzy sired Tiznow, the only 2-time winner of the BC Classic. Tiznow won the BC Classic as a three-year-old. He beat Giant's Causeway in 2000. The real reason to love Bravazo, though, are his connections.

The great D. Wayne Lukas trains Bravazo for legendary Calumet Farms. Lukas used to own the Triple Crown races. He's got a real, solid, chance to win at least one of the Triple Crown races this year if he keeps Bravazo on track. Yes, the horse looked that good.

If Bravazo impressed, Snapper Sinclair had to impress as well. Snapper Sinclair might have been in the race to set it up for Principe Guilherme, but he ended up almost winning the race. I believe Principe Guilherme needs more seasoning. Trainer Steve Asmussen should probably lay off, and come back for three-year-old races in the summer.

Snapper Sinclair is by City Zip from a Yes It's True broodmare. My guess, is that he probably doesn't want to run much further than 1 1/8 miles. No worries if you're Steve Asmussen. You can pick up plenty of Derby prep paychecks from now until the First Saturday in May.

Noble Indy ran very well for Todd Pletcher and Winstar Farms to finish third. It was only his third race, and he did get bumped at the break. He'll improve for sure.

Instilled Regard made his patented move. Then, he flattened out in the stretch. I believe the key with Instilled Regard is to make his move at the exact right time. Once he gets going, he's hard to stop. However, once he starts his move, he can't really make a second move. He's got his cruising speed, then a big move, then, he goes right back to higher cruising speed.

Expect Javier Castellano to put him right off the pace in Instilled Regard's next prep. Castellano might not get him going until the top of the stretch in the next prep, either.

2018 Southwest Stakes

Mourinho, the race favorite, left the rail open for My Boy Jack. Jockey Kent Desormeaux took advantage. Kent D road the rail aboard My Boy Jack to a Southwest Stakes victory as an 8 to 1 shot. Combatant finished second. Sporting Chance finished third. Mourinho finished fourth.

The runners in the Southwest Stakes didn't impress me as much as the runners in the Risen Star Stakes. The rail appeared golden in the Razorback, the race before the Southwest. Kent D knew that. If there is one horse that sort of impressed me, it was Sporting Chance.

Also trained by D. Wayne Lukas like Bravazo, Sporting Chance lost all momentum deep in the stretch when jockey Luis Saez had to pull him away from Mourinho, who lugged out just slightly enough to force the move. There's a part of the race, which I couldn't find to post on this blog, where Luis might have had a shot at going up the rail.

Instead, he took Sporting Chance outside of Mourinho. I'm interested to see how Sporting Chance fairs in his next Derby prep. If I'm right, he could turn into D. Wayne's second legit Kentucky Derby contender.