IN TROUBLE, RISE UP, â€˜HAWKâ€™, â€˜VICARâ€™ AMONG RIVALS
NEW ORLEANS (Wednesday, March 26, 2014) â€“ Starlight Racing and Jack Wolfâ€™s Intense Holiday, winner of the Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Feb. 22, has been installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite for Saturdayâ€™s 101st running of the Grade II $1 million Louisiana Derby, centerpiece race of the historic New Orleans ovalâ€™s 84-day meeting.
The nine-furlong Grade II Louisiana Derby â€“ as always a significant gauge for Triple Crown candidates â€“ will be Race 11 of 13 â€“ seven of which are stakes â€“ slated for the penultimate day of the New Orleans ovalâ€™s 2013-2014 thoroughbred racing season. First post time is 12:30 p.m. and the Derby will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network as part of a â€œRoad to the Kentucky Derbyâ€ broadcast.
Post time for the Louisiana Derby is approximately 6:10 p.m. CDT.
The Louisiana Derby is worth 170 points -100 for first, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth â€“ in the â€œRoad to the Kentucky Derbyâ€ series that determines qualifying for the worldâ€™s most famous horse race, held five weeks after the Louisiana Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Intense Holiday, a sophomore son of Harlanâ€™s Holiday conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, launched a bold late bid to capture the Risen Star by a nose in the last stride and has been training forwardly at South Floridaâ€™s Palm Meadows training center since returning to his home base. Prior to his Risen Star score, the Kentucky-bred colt finished a fast-closing third in Gulfstreamâ€™s Grade II Holy Bull Stakes Jan. 25 in his first start of the year. He will leave from the rail (#1) post with Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith up.
While gradually maturing as a 2-year-old, last fall, Intense Holiday ran fifth in Belmontâ€™s Grade I Champagne in October and then posted back-to-back fourth-place runs in Aqueductâ€™s Grade II Nashua and Remsen stakes.
Capable of providing strong competition for Intense Holiday is Ken and Sarah Ramseyâ€™s Vicarâ€™s in Trouble, third in the Risen Star when handicapped by an outside post but the 6 Â½-length winner of the Lecomte before that. He is returning for the Louisiana Derby with Fair Groundsâ€™ three-time defending jockey champion Rosie Napravnik in the saddle once again and benefits from the #6 post this time. Trained by Mike Maker, he is the 4-1 co-second choice in the morning line for the Louisiana Derby.
Also at 4-1 is Team Dâ€™s In Trouble, a Tony Dutrow trainee who won Belmontâ€™s Grade II Futurity last September and has made one start as a sophomore, finishing third in Aqueductâ€™s Grade III Gotham Stakes March 1 when only beaten a half-length for the win. In Trouble will be ridden by Joe Rocco and drew post #9.
Not to be discounted in the Louisiana Derby is Brereton Jonesâ€™s Albano, who led in all but the last step of the Risen Star and previously posted a runner-up run here in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes on Road to the Derby Jan. 18. In the last start of his juvenile campaign, the Larry Jones trainee captured Fair Groundsâ€™ Sugar Bowl Stakes Dec. 21. Regular rider Kerwin Clark will return in the irons aboard the half-brother to Jonesâ€™s Mark Valeski, who finished second in both the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby two years ago before winning Belmontâ€™s Grade II Peter Pan later that spring. Albano drew the outside #10 post and is 9-2 in the early line.
Paul and Andrena Van Dorenâ€™s Rise Up, hero of the Grade III Delta Jackpot, will leave from post #8. Trained by Tom Amoss, Rise Up missed the break to finish seventh in the Risen Star but deserves some consideration from previous impressive scores in the $100,000 Mountaineer Juvenile and the $200,000 Jean Lafitte. Gerard Melancon will be in the irons. Rise Up is 10-1 in the early line.
Winchell Thoroughbredsâ€™ Gold Hawk, third in the Lecomte and fifth in the Risen Star, is a regally-bred son of 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker out of 2000 Breedersâ€™ Cup Juvenile Fillies champion and deserves some consideration at 12-1 from post #5. The Steve Asmussen trainee is still in the learning stages of his career but has shown flashes of talent and has the riding services of Shaun Bridgmohan.
WinStar Farmâ€™s King Cyrus, a second Todd Pletcher trainee in the Louisiana Derby, is a 15-1 shot in the morning line who will leave from post #2 under jockey James Graham. The son of Bellamy Road was the runner-up in Calderâ€™s $75,000 Smooth Air Stakes March 2 in his only start as s 3-year-old.
Wesley Melcherâ€™s Louies Flower, a son of 2005 Travers winner Flower Alley, is trained by Bret Calhoun and flashed promise when winning Remingtonâ€™s $250,000 Springboard Mile but disappointed in Oaklawn Parkâ€™s Grade III Southwest. Miguel Mena is the jockey aboard the 20-1 shot who leaves from post #3.
West Point Thoroughbredsâ€™ Commanding Curve, trained by Dallas Stewart, broke his maiden impressively last fall but was trapped inside early and raced wide late in the Risen Star in his only race as a sophomore. Seven-time Fair Grounds jockey champion Robby Albarado gets the mount aboard the son of Master Command who drew post #7 and is also 20-1 in the early line.
Donâ€™t Tell My Wife Stablesâ€™ Flat Gone, trained by Keith Desormeaux and to be ridden by his brother â€“ Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux â€“ is the longest shot in the Louisiana Derby early line at 50-1 after finishing eighth in the Risen Star and will leave from post #4.