Thursday, February 17, 2011

There Is A Horse In New Orleans

Saturday’s contest for aspiring juvenile colts takes us to the Fairgrounds in Louisiana for the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes. Since 2000, all victors in the Risen Star Stakes (G-2) have been distance challenged, except for the 2006 winner, Lawyer Ron, who went on to become Champion Older Horse in 2007. Lawyer Ron went into the gate as the favorite in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, but tired and finished seventh. Perhaps this year’s Risen Star hero will fare better.

The first of Rogue Romance - Photo: Coadytwo graded stakes winners in the field, ROGUE ROMANCE (Smarty Jones - Lovington, by Afleet) finished a distant ten lengths behind Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He has a versatile pedigree that indicates that he’ll do well over any surface and he’s proven at 1 1/16 miles. Rogue Romance’s BRISNET speed figures have been improving in every start and he enters the Risen Star with a series of solid works under his girth.

The second graded stakes winner is Santiva (Giant’s Causeway – Slide, by Smarten) who fought a winning bSantiva - Photo: Eclipse Sportswireattle through the stretch of the  Kentucky Jockey Club (G-2). Santiva is a full brother to the sprinter, Her Majesty, who placed in the Alcibiades Stakes and he is a half-brother to stakes placed Take Arms. Their dam is an unraced half-sister to Champion Sprinting filly Safely Kept and graded stakes winning sprinter Partner’s Hero. The Keanelly Trainee has improved in every start and ripped a bullet breeze for the Risen Star.

Pants On Fire - Photo: Hoofprints PANTS ON FIREclip_image001 (Jump Start – Cabo De Noche, by Cape Town) is a head shy from graded stakes winner status, and was nipped by a head in the LeComte Stakes (G-3) after making the pace. Pants On Fire has a stamina over speed pedigree. His sire Jump Start, a well bred son of A.P. Indy, produced Grade 2 winners Rail Trip and Sir Whimsey. His offspring are generally best at a mile and farther. Cape Town generally gets sprinters, but his speed is tempered by the stamina influence of Pants On Fire’s second damsire Bates Motel. Pants On Fire’s dam is a half sister to stakes winning sprinters Hatfield and Key Hunter. Pants On Fire had two decent post-race works, but he will have company on the lead.

The one to give Pants On Fire a challenge for the lead will be Decisive Moment (With Distinction – Lady Samira, by Dehere). Decisive Moment’s pedigree carries miler-type speed. He is second crop sire With Distinction’s only winner at 1 1/16 miles. Decisive Moment has two stakes placed siblings and his second dam Tell Margie won a minor stakes race but that’s it for blacktype in the immediate family. Decisive Moment won the Jean Lafitte Stakes at a mile last time out but will have to handle the long Fairgrounds stretch this time.

Another with miler speed in his pedigree is Mucho Macho Man (Macho Uno – Ponche De Leona, by Ponche). He offered no challeMucho Macho Man - Photo: Coglianesenge to Honor  And Serve in the Nashua, and was a pace casualty in the Holy Bull (G-3) in his season debut. Mucho Macho Man probably won’t want to go farther than 1 1/16 miles. His sire has a few winners at 1 1/8 miles, but the majority of his offspring have distance limitations past 1 1/16 miles. Adding further limitations, Mucho Macho Man’s dam and damsire are stakes winning sprinters. The Kathy Ritvo trainee recorded a slow five furlong move in his last work.

Do morning works signal race readiness? If so, ACTION READY (More Than Ready – You Again, by Wild Again) is geared up and ready to go. He’s fired two bullet breezes in a live work pattern and his BRISNET speed figures have been improving in every race. He has a stamina oriented pedigree and has a graded stakes winning distaff family. Action Ready was the best of the rest after Wilkenson and Pants On Fire separated themselves for their speed duel for the wire in the LeComte. It was Action Ready’s was his first try against graded stakes company and one of the only times he was farther off the lead than usual.

Justin Phillip - Photo: Hodges His experiment with blinkers failed in the LeComte when JUSTIN PHILLIP (First Samurai – Avaknowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance) was a handful in the beginning of the race and had nothing left when the real running began. Justin Phillip has a speed over stamina pedigree. He’s a half-brother to sprinter Keyed Entry who set a new track record at Gulfstream Park for 7 1/2 furlongs in 1:27.12 and their dam was stakes placed.

The three new faces in the stakes crowd are Machen, Liondrive and Sorgho. Many think that Rogue RomaMachennce’s top challenger might be Machen  (Distorted Humor – Ready’s Gal, by More Than Ready). The Neil Howard trainee won both starts by over ten lengths and dips his hoof into graded stakes company for the first time. Distance won’t be a problem for this well-bred colt. His sire is becoming the now horse, with progeny winning left and right, while Machen’s dam is a multiple graded stakes winner who was at her best between 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 miles. Machen has been keeping pace with older horses in the mornings and his works are strong.

Liondrive (Lion Tamer – Outta The Park, by Grand Slam) has won two of nine starts, a maiden claiming and a state-bred allowance/optional claimer. He was out of the money in three stakes attempts. Liondrive has a speed over stamina pedigree. His sire was a sprinter and hasn’t been a success at stud. Liondrive’s dam won twice in five starts and this is a very modest distaff family. On a side note, Liondrive has Inbreeding to the blue hen Tamerett, but he’ll need more than that to keep up with this group.

Sorgho - Photo: Crystal Jones Well-bred Sorgho (Storm Cat – Gombeen, by Private Account) won his maiden last time out after switching to dirt. He’s by one of the most prolific stallions in modern times and his dam is a half-sister to the excellent sire Danehill; however, bloodlines aside, Sorgho’s dam went 0 for 8 on the track and his half siblings haven’t done much winning on the track.



How the track is playing: Overall, the track is playing fair, with pace pressers gaining the slight edge with 32% winners. The rail is the place to be with 29% winners. No rain is forecast, the track should be fast.

Most of the contestants prefer to race on or near the lead, but three have shown that they can be successful coming from off of the pace. ROGUE ROMANCE came from last in the Bourbon (G3) to win, and although that race was on the turf, the ability for a horse to switch off and run when asked transcends running surface. SANTIVA is battle tested, classy and is working well. He checks all of the boxes. DECISIVE MOMENT is the speed of the speed and his connections have indicated that he’ll gun out of the gate and play catch me if you can. PANTS ON FIRE could try to keep DECISIVE MOMENT honest on the lead. MUCHO MACHO MAN shook the rust off in the Holy Bull and should be ready to roll. He takes off the hood to help him relax. If it works, he can sit behind the speed and be ready to make the first move. ACTION READY wasn’t up to the task in the LeComte. He looks good to go on paper, but I have a feeling that he’s a cut below these and might prefer turf. JUSTIN PHILLIP has been a basket case ever since a poor break last year. Back off, give him some time and they might wind up with a decent miler. MACHEN and SORGHO are well-bred and taking on experienced runners. The former is untested and undefeated. SORGHO has a good late-pace figure, but his speed figures are going the wrong way and his wining time wasn’t inspiring.




MACHEN – longshot pick


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