Saturday’s Derby Prep Race Is The $400,000 Risen Star Stakes At Fair Grounds

Fair Grounds plays host to the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes Saturday Feb. 25, part of a big 12 race card that features another trio of graded stakes — the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra for 3 year old fillies, the Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap and Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap. The 4 pack of stakes has been carded as races 8-11. Post time for the  8th is 4:39 PM and the Risen Star closes out the quartet at 6:00 PM. This weekend, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Future Wagers are available as well. Bet now and get more lucrative odds than you might find on Derby Day at Churchill Downs.

Betting is available at the two new Off Track Betting Centers in Richmond — at Ponies & Pints downtown and at Breakers Sports Grille in the west end. Virginia residents can play on line from one of our four partners:,, and Here is a preview of the Risen Star Stakes courtesy of

* The house horse has held a decided advantage in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) in recent years, with three of the last four winners having prior form or being a regular trainee over the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots surface.

With his understated trainer leading the way, Mo Town has arrived in New Orleans looking to kick off his sophomore season by disrupting what has become the norm in the 1 1/16-mile test.

Mo Town, pictured here, will face highly regarded Guest Suite and 12 other 3 year olds in the Risen Star. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Durand.
Mo Town, pictured here, will face highly regarded Guest Suite and 12 other 3 year olds in the Risen Star. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Durand.

The Tex Sutton flight arriving from South Florida Feb. 21 dropped off the horse looking to ruin Mardi Gras weekend for some of the locals. While Lecomte Stakes (G3) winner Guest Suite owns the best recent form in the 14-horse field entered for the Risen Star, Tony Dutrow trainee Mo Town brings his back class to the mix as the Remsen Stakes (G2) victor makes his seasonal debut.

Owned by the Coolmore team of Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith, along with Dutrow’s Team D, Mo Town has taken his jumps in class in leaps and bounds during his three starts. After a seven-length Belmont Park romp to graduate at second asking, he registered a stalk-and-pounce win in the Nov. 26 Remsen Stakes going 1 1/8 miles, besting No Dozing by 2 1/2 lengths to plant himself on the watch list for the 2017 Triple Crown trail.

ANGST: Mo Town Wins Stakes Debut in Remsen

The son of Uncle Mo   has been an impressive presence on the worktab in the run up to his debut, with three straight bullet moves at Payson Park Training Center. Having already proven he can handle added distance, Dutrow is looking to his charge to show him he can handle the new wave of challenges that separates the wheat from the chaff among classic contenders.

“He’s happy and ready to run,” Dutrow said. “He’s done well since his last race and all winter.”

The Risen Star kicks off the next tier of qualifying on the 2017 Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard, with 50 points awarded to the winner.

As impressive as Mo Town was in his Remsen victory, the form of that race has not held up in the early stages of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, as No Dozing returned to finish sixth in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) Feb. 11 and third-place finisher Takaful ran seventh in the Jan. 2 Jerome Stakes (G3).

Ponies & Pints features a horseplayers exclusive room with 13 flat screen TVs, 4 self bet machines and 2 manned bet terminals.
Ponies & Pints features a horseplayers exclusive room with 13 flat screen TVs, 4 self bet machines and 2 manned bet terminals.

By contrast, Guest Suite has been flattered by some of those around him. Twice a winner around two turns, the Quality Road   gelding was last beaten when third in the Oct. 30 Street Sense Stakes to McCraken, who went on to win the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) last November and took the Sam F. Davis in track-record fashion.

Guest Suite has upped his own stock in the last handful of months as well. The Neil Howard trainee ended his 2-year-old campaign with a 6 1/4 length allowance win going a mile at Churchill Downs Nov. 26 and came with an off-the-pace run to take the Lecomte by 1 1/4 lengths over fellow Risen Star entrant Untrapped.

NOVAK: Guest Suite Steps Up in Lecomte

“He trained well and was encouraging enough, but you just don’t know until they do it,” Howard said after Guest Suite worked a bullet four furlongs in :48 at Fair Grounds Feb. 21. “He ran well in his first start, and fortunately he seems to have improved and moved forward with each race. He’s doing well. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed going into the race.”

Risen Star S. (G2)

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Saturday, February 25, 2017, Race 11
  • 1 1/16m
  • Dirt
  • $400,000
  • 3 yo
  • 5:00 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1Girvin (KY) Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr. 116 Joe Sharp 6/1
2 2Untrapped (KY) Ricardo Santana, Jr. 116 Steven M. Asmussen 10/1
3 3Local Hero (KY) Florent Geroux 116 Steven M. Asmussen 4/1
4 4Arklow (KY) Shaun Bridgmohan 116 Brad H. Cox 15/1
5 5Shareholder Value (KY) Mitchell Murrill 116 Thomas M. Amoss 15/1
6 6Guest Suite (KY) Robby Albarado 120 Neil J. Howard 6/1
7 7U S Officer (KY) Jose Valdivia, Jr. 116 Danny Pish 20/1
8 8Cool Arrow (KY) Gabriel Saez 120 Joe Sharp 15/1
9 9Mo Town (KY) John R. Velazquez 122 Anthony W. Dutrow 7/2
10 10Takeoff (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 116 Mark E. Casse 10/1
11 11Sorry Erik (KY) Kent J. Desormeaux 116 J. Keith Desormeaux 30/1
12 12Horse Fly (KY) Miguel Mena 116 D. Wayne Lukas 30/1
13 13It’s Your Nickel (KY) James Graham 116 Kenneth G. McPeek 30/1
14 14So Conflated (FL) Mario Gutierrez 120 Doug F. O’Neill 10/1