International Star continues to shine in Louisiana Derby

Profile Picture: James Scully

March 29th, 2015

Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s International Star wore down pacesetter Stanford (Malibu Moon) in deep stretch to post a neck victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2), completing a sweep of the three-year-old graded stakes at Fair Grounds.

“That’s back to back wins for us here in the Louisiana Derby and we swept all three this year,” Ken Ramsey said. “Last year (with Vicar’s in Trouble) we missed out on the Risen Star. Next stop: Kentucky!”

The Mike Maker-trained colt picked up another 100 points in the Kentucky Derby qualifier, jumping to the top of the Leaderboard with 171, and he’ll bring a strong closing kick to starting gate at Churchill Downs.

Regular rider Miguel Mena was up on the New York-bred, who was purchased for $85,000 at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Maryland September sale, and International Star has now earned $1,010,979 from a 9-5-2-0 record.

He is a son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.

International Star had never won on dirt before this year, breaking his maiden on Belmont Park’s turf and capturing the Grey Stakes on Woodbine’s Polytrack last season. He opened his sophomore campaign with a 9-1 upset in the January 17 Lecomte Stakes (G3) and continued to show more with a one-length decision in the February 21 Risen Star (G2).

The competition will only get deeper in the Kentucky Derby, but International Star’s improving form can’t be dismissed.

Stanford showed the way on a short lead from his rail post, posting opening splits in :24, :48 2/5 and 1:13 1/5, and entered the stretch drive with a one-length advantage.

International Star settled near the back of the nine-horse field during the opening stages before launching a bold rally along the inside through the far turn. Mena angled his mount off the rail while straightening for home and International Star gradually wore down his rival, forging his way to the front in deep stretch.

“We got another good trip, had a clean run,” Mena said. “He was the best horse in the race again today and I thank the connections for giving me the chance to ride him.”

Favored at 2-1, International Star paid $6.60 to win and completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:50.67.

Stanford, who was making his first attempt in a points’ race, left the starting gate at 7-1 and easily held second by 4 ¼ lengths. The 40-point second-place prize should guarantee him a Kentucky Derby berth.

War Story, the 2-1 second choice, is also in good shape, picking up another 20 points to increase his total to 44. It was another 2 ¼ lengths back to fourth-placer Keen Ice, who now owns 22 points and figures to be on the bubble if he doesn’t run back in another scoring prep race.

International Star became the fifth horse, and the first since Friesan Fire in 2009, to win the three big stakes for three-year-olds at Fair Grounds.

Maker was asked why the colt has been so good at the New Orleans oval.

“I don’t know, but I think I might take some of the dirt from Fair Grounds up to Kentucky with us.”

International Star photo credit: Alexander Barkoff/Hodges Photography