International Star returns in Fair Grounds’ Louisiana Stakes

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TwinSpires Staff

January 8th, 2016

Edited Press Release

International Star returns to the site of his greatest accomplishments next weekend when the reigning Louisiana Derby (G2) champion starts in the $75,000 Louisiana S. on January 16 at Fair Grounds.

After sweeping all three graded stakes for sophomores at the New Orleans oval last year, the Ken and Sarah Ramsey colorbearer colt was poised for a run in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but was scratched the morning of the race with heat on the inside quarter of his left front hoof.

International Star has raced once since his aforementioned March 28 Louisiana Derby victory when fourth as the 6-5 favorite in the Zia Park Derby on November 25 at its New Mexican namesake course.

The Louisiana, like the Zia Park Derby and International Star’s victory in last year’s Risen Star S. (G2), is at 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

“He had a disastrous trip out to Zia Park,” Ken Ramsey said. “That definitely did not turn out as well as we hoped for him.

“It wasn’t so much bad luck as we were probably misguided in sending him out there. We couldn’t get transportation and even if we flew him, we would have to van him from there, so it was too many van rides. So, we hauled him all the way from Kentucky in one of my own vans and it didn’t go well.

“I really wanted to get another Derby victory for him since we couldn't run him in the Kentucky Derby.

“Right now he’s doing well and he loves the track down at the Fair Grounds,” Ramsey continued. “Hopefully you’ll see a different horse this time. We expect him to run his race and hopefully get another stakes win over that track.”

In 10 career lifetime starts, International Star has won five times, including four graded tallies.

The New York-bred will be reunited with Miguel Mena, under whom he is a perfect three-for-three in the aforementioned triad of local stakes.

The Mike Maker pupil has earned more than a million dollars and finished worse than fourth only once when ninth, beaten only 3 1/4 lengths, in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) in 2014.

Among those International Star will face in the Louisiana S. is Grade 2 winner Coup de Grace, who is unraced since a well-beaten last of seven in the Salvator Mile (G3) at Monmouth Park last July 5.

“He’s always been a good horse and we’d love to win a Grade 1 with him,” trainer Larry Jones said. “We’re going to run him in the Louisiana going two turns. Once we had him ready last year, he kind of got hurt and we knew something was bugging him. Finally after two bad races, he got a nuclear scan and they found something and that necessitated the time off. Now he’s doing well.”

Coup de Grace, who has gone farther than a mile only once in 12 career starts thus far, competed just three times last year, finishing third against allowance/optional claiming rivals at Fair Grounds prior to off-the-board efforts in the Maryland Sprint H. (G3) and aforementioned Salvatore Mile.

“We are going to get him out of the sprint mindset and immediately start him long (in the Louisiana),” Jones asserted. “There’s no reason he can’t go long. When (trainer Chad Brown) had him they thought he could be a Derby horse, but his biggest problem is not wanting to agree with you.

“As he’s gotten older, he’s become a little more mellow and right now he’s training well and I have noticed good things with him and (jockey Florent) Geroux in the mornings. We just hope he’s tight enough.”

Also entered in the Louisiana Stakes are the respective top three from the December 19 Tenacious S. – Eagle, Freestyler and Ride on Curlin – as well as Grade 1 hero Majestic Harbor, who was last seen running third in the Hawthorne Gold Cup H. (G3) on November 28.

International Star photo courtesy of Lou Hodges Jr./Lou Hodges Photography