Friday, February 24, 2012

Risen Star & Fountain of Youth Strong Preps

El Prado Stakes Debut   In Risen Star

The Risen Star Stakes (G-2) is the middle leg of Louisiana’s prep races for the Kentucky Derby. Mr. Bowling won the first leg, the Lecomte Stakes (G-3). The series cumulates with the Louisiana Derby (G-1) on April 1.

Over the last twelve years, only one winner of the Lecomte, Friesan Fire, has scored a victory in the Risen Star.

Since 2000, only Mucho Macho Man, last year’s Risen Star hero, has finished in the top three in a Triple Crown contest.

MrBowling3This year, MR. BOWLING (Istan - Goldilock's Bear, by Irish Tower) will attempt to pull off the Lecomte/Risen Star double. The son of second crop sire Istan held on by a desperate head to win the Lecomte. Mr. Bowling has a miler pedigree, so he should handle 1 1/16 miles, but it could be at the top of his distance range. Mr. Bowling’s damsire was a multiple stakes winner from seven furlongs to 1 1/8 miles and he is the damsire of Canadian Champion Filly Knight’s Templar and Dubai Golden Shaheen (G-1) hero Proud Tower Too. Mr. Bowling is the first stakes winner produced by his dam Goldilock's Bear. She is a half-sister to Grade 1 sprint heroine Tarlow. Read Mr. Bowling’s pedigree profile. Mr. Bowling posted two good breezes and Larry Jones knows how to get them ready.

After winning his maiden, Z DAGER (MizzenZDager Mast - Fees Waived, by Wavering Monarch) came back to finish a hard closing second in the Lecomte Stakes. He has a speed laden pedigree, but his running style suggests that he can handle 1 1/16 miles. His sire’s dirt runners are best up to a mile. Damsire Wavering Monarch won the Haskell Invitational, but as a broodmare sire, his best offspring are sprinter/milers. Z Dager’s unraced dam is a half-sister to two listed stakes winning sprinters. Trainer Steve Asmussen scores with 26% of his beaten favorites next time out.

SharedPropertyPhotoFourFootedFotosOnly ½ length behind the top two in the Lecomte, SHARED PROPERTY (Scat Daddy - Yoursmineours, by Belong to Me) should be sharper in his second race of the year. His second crop sire Scat Daddy was represented by the El Camino Real Derby hero and the winner and third place finisher in the Southwest Stakes last week. Shared Property has quality in his distaff family. His dam won the Honeybee Stakes and his third dam produced Champion filly Epitome. Shared Property has posted two strong works for the Risen Star. His trainer Tom Amoss scores with 23% winners in their second race off of a layoff.

Mr. Bowling’s stablemate MARK VALESKIMarkValeski (Proud Citizen - Pocho's Dream Girl, by Fortunate Prospect) won his season debut sprinting and stretches out in the Risen Star. He has a miler speed on top and his dam won stakes races at 1 1/8 miles. She’s a half-sister to the stakes winning miler Waynes Crane. This distaff family produced the top handicap horse Silver Buck, the sire of Champion Silver Charm. Mark Valeski breezed a bullet six furlongs for the race.

After two embarrassing finishes racing past a mile, ADENA'S CHANCE (Limehouse - Little Krissy, by Kris S.) Is strongly hinting that he’d rather be a sprinter. Not too much of a surprise, as his sire Limehouse gets precocious sprinter/miler types. However, Adena’s Chance’s damsire did produce Breeders’ Cup winners and tends to lend stamina to the pedigree, so maybe in time he’ll stretch out. Adena's Chance has a modest distaff family. The only blacktype is owned by the second dam, who is stakes placed. Adena’s Chance’s trainer is 0 for 10 in graded stakes.

HERO OF ORDER (Sharp Humor - Ocean Sprite, by Ocean Crest) finished off the board in the Lecomte, then finished a neck behind his stablemate Adena’s Chance in an optional claiming sprint. Hero of Order has miler speed over stamina pedigree. His sire’s offspring win up to 1 1/16 miles. His damsire Ocean Crest, a son of Storm Bird, won the Del Mar Derby at 1 1/8 miles and his second damsire, Gato Del Sol is a Kentucky Derby hero. Hero of Order’s dam was unplaced in two starts, but she’s a half-sister to G1 winner Things Change.

AFFORD (Street Sense - Unaffordable, by Unbridled) comes back in two weeks after an allowance win over the Fairgrounds dirt. He has the pedigree to love two turns. Afford is a half-brother to the stakes winning Fast Alex. Their dam is a half-sister to the grade 1 winner Til Forbid, who also placed in the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama Stakes. Owned and bred by the guy who brought us Street Sense, Afford’s trainer gets 18% winners with horses stretching out for the second time.

OptimizerOPTIMIZER (English Channel - Indy Pick, by A.P. Indy) did well over the turf and Polytrack last year, but hasn’t hit the board in his dirt tries. Not surprising, given his turf pedigree. The son of English Channel has a strong stamina oriented distaff family. His dam Indy Pick is a half-sister to the top race mare Finder’s Fee, heroine of the Matron (G1) at two and the Acorn (G1) at three, as well as other graded stakes events. Another half-sister, Freedom of Speech, produced the multiple stakes winning turf veteran T D Vance. Indy Pick is also a half-sister to a top steeplechaser and to Peter Pan runner-up Treasure Beach. This distaff family carries Phipps family bloodlines. The second dam Fantastic Find won the Hempstead along with other graded stakes and the third dam Blitey and fourth dam Lady Pitt are blue hens. The once great Lukas has just 2% stakes winners.

TED'S FOLLY (Wild Tale - Tricksword, by SwordTedsFolly Dance (IRE)) was a big fish in the little Remmington Park pond, but disappointed in the Lecomte when taking on better colts. Ted’s Folly is the first stakes winner produced by his sire. Wild Tale, a son of Tale of the Cat, is a Grade 3 placed sprinter. Ted’s Folly’s damsire is represented by eight stakes winners over dirt, but none have won a graded stakes over the surface. Ted’s Folly descends from a modest but hardy distaff line. He is the first stakes winner produced by his dam, Tricksword. She is a half-sister to a stakes placed runner. Trainer Wilson Brown is 0 for 2 in graded stakes so far this year.

ElPadrino PhotoCoglineseEL PADRINO (Pulpit - Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway) posted an eye catching victory over stakes placed Take Charge Indy last time out, earning a triple digit Brisnet speed figure in the process. El Padrino is clearly talented and loves the slop, but he has yet to win over a fast track. His distaff family is loaded with talented stars and the mares of this distaff line are excellent producers. His dam is a half-sibling to Tara Roma and Waldboro, Grade 2 winners. Read El Padrino’s pedigree profile. The formidable Pletcher barn wins with 24% shippers.

TIZANEXPENSE (Tiznow - Rezister, by Deputy Minister) has won his last two starts and he’s starting to put it all together. He has the pedigree to love going two turns. His sire and damsire get long-winded runners and Tizanexpense’s distaff line is filled with stout Argentinian stamina. Tizanexpense is a half-brother to two stakes placed runners and their unraced dam is a half-sister to Retoss, who beat the great Paseana in the Vanity (G-1). Tizanexpense posted to strong breezes for the Risen Star.



There’s some speed in the Risen Star, but only HERO OF ORDER is a clear front runner. He’s failed to stay 1 1/16 miles in two starts, but was barely beaten. If he can carve out very slow fractions, he might lull them and have something left in the stretch.

EL PADRINO seems to have it all. He has the looks, pedigree running style and pace figures to beat the field into submission. He’s also the only horse who has won at 1 1/16 miles over the dirt, albeit a sloppy track. There’s no reason to think that El Padrino can’t handle a fast track and Pletcher is no stranger to the winner’s circle at the Fairgrounds, having won the Risen Star in 2010 with Discreet Cat. Still, El Padrino will go off at low odds, so let’s take a look at some of the others.

Lecomte hero MR. BOWLING was hard pressed to hold at a mile. His stablemate MARK VALESKI is showing all the signs of running a big one. Z DAGER’S speed figures are on the rise and it’s dangerous to bet against Asmussen. SHARED PROPERTY ran a big one in his three year old debut and should move forward. The improving AFFORD and TIZANEXPENSE are late-maturing types who need two turns. On paper, AFFORD appears the faster of the two.




#1 AFFORD - longshot play

Pletcher Vs. Union Rags

            In FOY


Like the Risen Star, the Fountain of Youth is the second leg in a three race sequence of prep races for horses pointing to the Kentucky Derby. Contested at Gulfstream Park, the Florida series consists of the Holy Bull (G-3), Fountain of Youth (G-2) and Florida Derby (G-1).

2012 marks the first year that the Fountain of Youth will revert to 1 1/16 miles for the first time since 2004. Last year’s top three finishers in the Grade 2 contest didn’t contest the Kentucky Derby, but the field included eventual Preakness champ Shackelford. The last horse to pull off the Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby triple was Thunder Gulch in 1995.

Just about every year, the Fountain of Youth is a strong competitive race and this year is no exception. The field of eight horses contains two promising youngsters from Todd Pletcher’s barn, the Holy Bull victor Algorithms and the track setting Discreet Dancer.

UnionRagsPhotoCoglianeseThe Grade 2 contest also includes last year’s powerhouse and early Kentucky Derby favorite, UNION RAGS (Dixie Union - Tempo, by Gone West). The strapping chestnut colt was beaten a head at 1 1/16 miles in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after going widest of all. He’s making his three year old debut in the Fountain of Youth and has been working extremely well. Read his pedigree profile.

algorithms photocoglianeseUnion Rags faces off against the undefeated ALGORITHMS (Bernardini - Ava Knowsthecode, by Cryptoclearance). This talented youngster gave a big horse laugh at his competition in the Holy Bull Stakes, winning by a widening five lengths. The Pletcher trainee is a half-brother to the graded stakes winners Keyed Entry and Justin Philip as well as listed winners Successful Mission and Alex’s Allure. The last two colts to complete the Holy Bull/Fountain of Youth double were Quality Road in 2009 and Scat Daddy in 2007. Read his full pedigree profile.

DiscreetDancerAlgorithms’ stablemate DISCREET DANCER (Discreet Cat - West Side Dancer, by Gone West) burst upon the racing scene with a track-record setting performance gong 5 ½ furlongs in his debut. The lightly raced colt has destroyed his competitors by a combined 15 ¼ lengths I n just two starts. Discreet Dancer’s second crop sire hasn’t had a winner past a mile over the dirt in the US, but one of his sons won a novice race at 1 1/8 miles in Japan. Discreet Dancer is a half-brother to the speedy Travelin Man, winner of last year’s Swale Stakes at Gulfstream.

CasualTrickAfter a second place finish in the Gulfstream Derby, CASUAL TRICK (Bernardini - Casual Look, by Red Ransom) ineffectually chased the pace in an allowance claiming race held over a sloppy Gufstream track. He needed binoculars to see the winner of that race, El Padrino. That one is favored to win the Risen Star. Casual Trick is a son of this year’s first crop sire sensation Bernardini. Casual Trick’s dam placed in a Group 2 as a juvenile and won the Epsom Oaks (Gr.1). This distaff line produced the brilliant Magnificience, who set a new stakes record in the Santa Paula. Casual Trick has been working strongly at Palm Meadows and should bounce back in the Fountain of Youth.

Two local horses take on a tougher class in the Fountain of Youth.

FortLoudonPhotoJimLisaFORT LOUDON (Awesome of Course - Lottsa Talc, by Talc) ruled South Florida with a sweep of the Stallion Stakes, but hasn’t been competitive since stepping into the Graded Stakes pool. Fort Loudon is a half-brother to the dam of the multiple graded stakes winning miler Jackson Bend. Trained by top South Florida conditioner Stanley Gold, Fort Loudon can sit anywhere in the race and has been working well, but at this point in his career, appears a cut below this group.

The other local horse, CSABA (Kitten's Joy - High Chant, by War Chant) is carving out a niche as a wet track specialist. He’s won two of three races over an off track. He has a strong turf pedigree, but wound up fifth, beaten only 2 ½ lengths in his first try over the lawn. Csaba could be the anomaly turf bred horse who prefers dirt, but his best chance might come if his connections pray for rain.

NECK 'N NECK (Flower Alley - Bootery, by Storm Boot) adds blinkers after a gaining fifth place in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last time out. Previously, he got up to be the best of the rest behind Discreet Dancer. Neck N’ Neck has no notable blacktype in two generations of his distaff line. The Ian Wilkes barn gets 8% winners with horses adding first time blinkers.

NEWS PENDING (Harlan's Holiday - Motivated Sreva, by Lear Fan) was beaten by a desperate nose in a maiden race over the dirt at Belmont last year, but otherwise, has not taken to the surface. His dam was a fading fourth in her only dirt race, but won over the turf from a mile to 1 1/8 miles. She’s a half-sister to the multiple stakes winning sprinter Adore The Gold.



Track bias: Inside posts rule at Gulfstream around two turns. That’s because there’s a very short run to the first turn and those on the outside don’t have time to get a good position.

All eyes and much of the money will be on UNION RAGS. He doesn’t need to win, just run well. DISCREET DANCER has a decent post position and appears to be the controlling speed, but he probably doesn’t need the lead to win. ALGORITHMS and CASUAL TRICK should be close to the pace.




#4 CASUAL TRICK – longshot