Rating the 2019 Kentucky Derby Prep Races

Omaha Beach winning the Rebel Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park - Coady Photography As we head into the final round of Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races, now seems like a good time to look back at the 17 North American prep races already run this year and assign a rating to each one. My ratings—based on a scale of 1 to 5—attempt to blend the apparent strength of each race on paper with its potential [...]

Spot Plays for Risen Star Day at Fair Grounds

Synchrony winning the 2018 Fair Grounds Handicap (gr. III) - Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr. Planning to watch and wager on the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) this Saturday at Fair Grounds? Don’t forget to check out the other appealing races on the card! I’ve already shared my thoughts on the Risen Star, but that’s just one of the dozen races on the agenda. After going over the rest of the card, I’ve found four other spot plays throughout [...]

Is War of Will Vulnerable in the Risen Star?

War of Will winning the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir If horses always ran to form and everyone always received a perfect trip, handicapping races would be easy. Certainly handicapping Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds would offer no meaningful challenge. After all, doesn’t #14 War of Will loom as a standout on paper? The son of War Front is 2-for-2 on dirt and was [...]

Derby, Oaks Contenders Face Off on Saturday at Fair Grounds

Serengeti Empress winning the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill Downs - Coady Photography Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders will shine at Fair Grounds on February 16, a busy day of racing that includes four graded stakes races at the New Orleans racetrack. The highlight of the day is unquestionably the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II), which offers 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points to the winner as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship [...]

Keeler Johnson’s Kentucky Derby Top 10 — 2/20/18

Bravazo winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir The Road to the Kentucky Derby took a few major twists last weekend with upsets in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) and Southwest Stakes (gr. III), plus a brilliant debut from an exciting colt at Santa Anita. Suffice to say, my Kentucky Derby Top 10 has been shaken up a bit this week. Here’s how I rank the contenders [...]

Bravazo Finishes Fast in Risen Star Upset

Bravazo winning the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir Let’s face it—it’s just doesn’t feel like Kentucky Derby prep season if the Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas doesn’t have a horse in the mix, which is why you have to be pleased by the results of Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds. The 8.5-furlong race offered 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points to the [...]

Horizontal Plays on Risen Star Stakes Day at Fair Grounds

Principe Guilherme winning an allowance race at Fair Grounds (Hodges Photography) Fair Grounds takes center stage on Saturday afternoon as the stakes laden card in Louisiana is headlined by the $400,000 Risen Star. The mile and a sixteenth event is the first prep race that offers competitors 50 qualifying points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” leaderboard. The stakes action over the twelve-race slate gets started in Race 4 with the $50,000 Colonial Power and concludes with [...]

Keying Instilled Regard in the Risen Star Stakes

Instilled Regard winning the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir With 50 Kentucky Derby qualification points on the line, you can bet that the race for victory in Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds will be competitive and exciting. Ten horses have turned out to contest the 8.5-furlong event, which has been won in recent years by the future Breeders’ Cup Classic winners Gun Runner and [...]

Instilled Regard Demonstrates California’s Strength in Lecomte Stakes

Instilled Regard winning the Lecomte Stakes (gr. III) at Fair Grounds - Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir In recent years, California-based three-year-olds have proven dominant in the Triple Crown races and the prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Certainly the West Coast held a clear edge in 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016, when horses like I’ll Have Another, California Chrome, American Pharoah, Nyquist, Exaggerator, and Bodemeister rose to prominence, and early evidence suggests that [...]