Following a victory in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes, OXO Equine LLC's Instilled Regard is set for his return to the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots when he faces nine other 3-year-olds in the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes, which is the second of three local preps on Churchill Downs' Road to The Kentucky Derby and awards the Top 4 finishers points based off of a 50-20-10-5 scale.
Slated as the 8-5 morning line favorite by Fair Grounds clocker and odds maker Mike Diliberto, the 3-year-old son of Arch will break from post five under Javier Castellano, who guided Instilled Regard to his Lecomte triumph. He was purchased for $1,050,000 from the Ocala Breeders' Sale in March 2017 and is out of Enhancing, a daughter of Eclipse Award winner and multiple graded stakes winning producer Heavenly Prize. Trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer, Instilled Regard has never finished off the board in five career starts. The first of his quintet of performances was a half-length loss in a six-furlong maiden special weight at Del Mar to 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah's full brother St. Patrick's Day. In his next start, he was third behind Mourinho, who would go on to take Oaklawn Park's Smarty Jones Stakes. Third time was the charm for Instilled Regard when he broke his maiden at Santa Anita going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on Oct. 29. Next out, he was third beaten three-quarters of a length in the Gr. I Los Alamitos Futurity, but was elevated to second after the winner Solomini was disqualified for interference in the stretch. He enters the Risen Star off of his victory in the Lecomte where he successfully took on a full field of 3-year-olds, several of which are looking to take another crack at the Southern California invader.
Two of these horses include a pair of 3-year-olds from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen – Principe Guilherme and Snapper Sinclair, who finished a respective second and third behind Instilled Regard in the Lecomte. Owned by Three Chimneys Farm, Principe Guilherme was handed his first loss when falling to Instilled Regard. His career debut took place in a maiden event over the Churchill Downs main track on Nov. 10, which he won by 6 ¼ lengths, which he followed with a 11¾-length romp in a one-mile-and-70-yard allowance optional claiming race at the Fair Grounds. Principe Guilherme was a lucrative $600,000 purchase at the 2015 Fasig-Tipton November Sale and is the first foal out of Grade I winning broodmare Aubby K.
Snapper Sinclair was third beaten four lengths in the Lecomte to Instilled Regard. The Bloom Racing Stable LLC-owned son of City Zip is still in search of his first career victory over the main track. Snapper Sincalir broke his maiden at second time out over the Saratoga turf on Aug. 14 and then successfully stepped up in class to win the Fasig-Tipton Turf Showcase Juvenile Stakes at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 6. Asmussen then shipped him to Del Mar for the Gr. I Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar on Nov. 3, where he was 12th beaten 10 ¼ lengths by Mendelssohn. Snapper Sinclair boasts career earnings of $272,360 which is more than any other contender in the Risen Star field. Jockey Adam Beschizza piloted him in the Lecomte and will guide the horse once more when he breaks from post four at odds of 8-1.
Craig Aguilar's Ebben was sixth beaten 8¾ lengths in the Lecomte and drew the ten hole where he will be ridden by jockey Gabriel Saez at odds of 30-1. Trainer Steve Margolis plans on cross entering the horse in the Gr. III $500,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on Feb. 19. Prior to the Lecomte, the son of Trappe Shot was a decisive winner of a one mile allowance race over the Churchill Downs main track in November. He broke his maiden second time out at Indiana Grand Race Course in July.
A handful of newcomers will be going into line for the Risen Star as well. Trainer Todd Pletcher is sending Noble Indy to the New Orleans oval following a pair of wins at Gulfstream Park. In his career debut, the WinStar Farm LLC-owned son of Take Charge Indy took a field of maidens gate to wire at the South Florida oval, which he won by 8¾ lengths. He successfully stretched out to two turns in his following effort which took place in a mile-and-a-sixteenth allowance optional claiming event on Jan. 11. Pletcher will be looking for his fourth Risen Star victory with Noble Indy. He won three previous times with Discreetly Mine (2010), El Padrino (2012) and Intense Holiday (2014).
“We were just looking for a logical prep timing wise,” Pletcher said. “He's been doing really well and came out of last race well. There are essentially options every weekend but we feel like this is a good spot for him. He's shown a tremendous amount of talent not only in the mornings but in both of his races. He's a horse with a pedigree that suggests he'll handle longer distances.”
Pletcher's former mentor, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas has entered a Calumet Farm-owned pair of horses from his winter base at Oaklawn Park. Breaking from post seven, Bravazo enters the Risen Star off of a game effort at Oaklawn Park where he was a narrow winner in a one mile allowance race on January 13. The son of Awesome Again broke his maiden second time out at Churchill Downs before finishing second to Free Drop Billy in the Gr. I Claiborne Breeders' Futurity on Oct. 7, where he was beaten four lengths. While Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens is the named rider, Bravazo will receive the riding services of jockey Miguel Mena and breaks from post seven at odds of 8-1.
Just to the outside of Bravazo is stable mate Kentucky Club (post eight, James Graham, 30-1), who takes a jump up in class following a win against maiden claimers over a sloppy going at Oaklawn Park. The son of Oxbow, who also was owned by Calumet Farm and trained by Lukas, was an eight length winner of that event, where he ran for a $30,000 tag.
Trainer Mike Stidham will send out Stallionaire Enterprises LLC's Supreme Aura, who will be trying two turns for the first time in the Risen Star. The son of Candy Ride (Arg.) was an impressive 4 ¾-length winner in a Delaware Park maiden special weight over the summer and returned to the winner's circle off of a five month layoff to take a six furlong allowance event over the Fair Grounds main track on Jan. 5. He will break from the five hole under Joe Bravo at morning line odds of 8-1.
Breaking from the rail is Shortleaf Stable Inc.'s High North (post one, Corey Lanerie, 15-1), who last raced in the Gr. II Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, where he was a troubled fourth behind Enticed. The son of Midnight Lute broke his maiden at third asking in a narrow victory over the Keeneland main track for trainer Brad Cox. His first two starts were met with some stuff competition. High North's career debut took place at Saratoga, where he finished fourth in a race that produced eventual Champion Two-Year-Old Colt Good Magic. Next out, he was a well-beaten second at Belmont Park behind two-time graded stakes winner Avery Island.
Rounding out the field is Valene Farms' Givemeaminit (post three, Shaun Bridgmohan, 15-1), who broke his maiden by eight lengths last time out as the overwhelming favorite and has plenty of experience against horses of this caliber. In his career debut, he was second in a maiden special weight event at Saratoga to Sporting Chance, who would go on to defeat him once more in the Gr. I Hopeful Stakes next out. Trainer Dallas Stewart continued running the son of Star Guitar in graded stakes events. He was fifth in the Gr. I Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland next our before shipping to Del Mar for the Gr. I Breeders' Cup Juvenile where he was a well-beaten fourth. In his next two starts, Givemeaminit finished eighth in the Gr. II Kentucky Jockey Club and then faced Louisiana-breds in the Louisiana Futurity where he was second beaten a neck behind Pound For Pound. Stewart will be in search of his first Risen Star triumph since Gary and Mary West's Dollar Bill took the 2001 edition of the event.
The Gr. II Risen Star Stakes is named in honor of New Orleans native Louie Roussel III and Lamarque Racing Stable's Champion Three-Year-Old in 1988. He became the only son of 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat to win an American Classic when he captured both the Gr. I Preakness and Belmont Stakes, the latter of which he won by 14¾ lengths. Risen Star finished third in the Kentucky Derby behind Winning Colors. He won his namesake race when it was formerly named the Louisiana Derby Preview Stakes.
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