Magic Man’s Risen Star Stakes breakdown, predictions

  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
  • icon
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I am pleased to be back here at CCS to preview the penultimate prep race before the Louisiana Derby.

The Risen Star Stakes for 3-year old colts is a big step on the Road to the Kentucky Derby where points total increases are crucial. It will be run on a very cold day in the New Orleans area. There has been no turf racing thus far this week and if we get any it’ll be the undercard race only.

I have my thoughts on how this race can play out and also a little surprise at the end of my preview – I am going to take an early stand and give you my Kentucky Derby selection right now.

First let me focus on the Risen Star Stakes with a comprehensive look at this solid field of 13:

Fair Grounds Race # 13, 6:18 PM

1 1/8M, Dirt, Risen Star S. Presented by Lamarque Ford

Open | 3 Year Olds

Purse: $400,000

Exacta / $0.50 Trifecta / $0.10 Superfecta

# PP Horse / Sire Trainer / Jockey ML


Super Saver

Dallas Stewart

Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.




Michael Stidham

John R. Velazquez


Beep Beep


Norm W. Casse

Miguel Mena



Union Rags

Thomas M. Amoss

James Graham


Senor Buscador


Todd W. Fincher

Luis S. Quinonez


Midnight Bourbon


Steven M. Asmussen

Joseph Talamo


O Besos


Gregory D. Foley

Marcelino Pedroza



Tale of Ekati

Tim Dixon

Declan Carroll



Union Rags

Thomas M. Amoss

Diego Saenz


Santa Cruiser

Dialed In

J. Keith Desormeaux

Adam Beschizza



Into Mischief

Brad H. Cox

Florent Geroux




Robertino Diodoro

David Cohen



Awesome Again

Shane Wilson

Mitchell Murrill



1. Starinmydreams – Has not been seen since last November when he nosed out a win against an allowance field at Churchill. His trainer Dallas Stewart usually surprises somewhere and this guy is 12-1. He does show an abundance of works in his prep for this race so I do not question his fitness. I just wonder quite honestly if he is good enough. He gets a new rider who is very capable but the rail draw sours me just a bit.

2. Proxy – Ran a strong 2nd to Midnight Bourbon in the Lecomte in his last out. Was up against a slow pace and closed solidly into it. I do find the switch to John Velasquez quite striking as he gives up a day of mounts in Florida to find his Kentucky Derby mount in May. This horse since the Lecomte has worked faster for this race than he did for the Lecomte. I do not think he will be anywhere near his 8-1 morning line and if he moves forward he absolutely can have a say so here.

3. Beep Beep – Was ewell beaten in his last out against weaker competition and he takes a dip into stakes company here. I think his connections are chasing false hope and I do not give this horse much of a chance. An easy tossout for me.

4. Carillo – I saw his maiden breaker at Aqueduct and he overcame a little trouble at the start that day to draw off an win. However in saying that he take a big step up in class here and although I am a fan of his trainer Tom Amoss I think this guy is up against it here and though 10-1 may appeal I think there are better values here so out with this guy as well is my feeling.

5. Senor Buscador – Shows 2 powerful wins at Remington and comes in with plenty of works as his foundation. The fact that Todd Pletcher his trainer keeps the same rider veteran Luis Quinonez aboard is another positive. If I am nitpicking which I am I would have liked to see a work over this surface but nevertheless I will include him in my main body of contenders.

6. Midnight Bourbon – Winner of the first prep as he took the Lecomte in gate to wire fashion last time out. He sits at 6-1 and that is probably thinking he will not repeat that effort. There is other speed but this guy showed a little heart and guts last out. Joe Talamo had his pick of mounts and sides here. If he can shake clear again surely he has a big chance. I am not so sure though. He is bred to get more distance which happens here I just do not know what to make of him.

7. O Besos – Comes in off 2 consecutive wins against restricted horses and takes a big jump here. Not for this guy so let us move on shall we?

8. Sermononthemount – In his one stakes out, he got absolutely crushed. Stretches pout and has some breeding for this distance but no way do I see him anywhere around when the real running starts.

9. Defeater – Overcame a tardy start to win his debut last time out but Tom Amoss who saddles him faces another uphill climb. He stretches out here but his go to rider chooses another mount so the thinking says if he does not want him why should I? Not for me so lets continue.

10. Santa Cruiser – Had a horrible trip in the Lecomte as he got completely shut off at the start and left himself way too much to do. A cleaner trip has his connections with hope that he can figure. He gets a rider switch to Adam Beschizza who tends to be good in breaking horses out of the gate. I think a better trip gives this horse a chance to be there and is one I am considering as well.

11. Mandaloun – Jad every chance as the heavy favorite in the Lecomte but did not finish as willing as he should have. Maybe he was overbet that day as you look at his prior efforts they don’t jump out at you. I am not saying he has no chance that would be foolish but what I am saying is he has no excuses today and it would not surprise me if he was to flop again. His connections are white hot but this guy just does not strike me as a sure thing.

12. Keepmeinmind – Has not run since he won the Kentucky Jockey Cup closing into a pedestrian pace. The post is problematic but I am not swayed. I think with the worktab he has produced in advance of this race is enough to make me believe that he is the one to beat.

13. Rghtandjust – Another one who figures to be prominent early but the post and his running style tell me he does not stand a chance in this spot.

My Selections

1. Keepmeinmind – Strictly the one to beat and has run against better than these. Post could be troublesome but ability is in no question.

2. Proxy – Like the rider switch to Velasquez and has a big license to move forward here. Don’t think he sees 8-1 but does have a big shot

3. Midnight Bourbon – I know there will be detractors off his win in the Lecomte but if he replicate that effort here I really think he can factor into the outcome. Perhaps a shift in tactics could help.

4. Senor Buscador – Pletcher in New Orleans is usually a good proposition and this guy can fire big off the bench. Is it enough to win. At the end of the day I don’t think so but he should be in the exacta box I am putting together.

So I teased that I am taking a stand in the Kentucky Derby and I realize it is only mid February. Yet, unless this horse I am about to give falls apart, I fully expect to see him feature prominently on the first Saturday in May.

His name is Greatest Honour and I watched his Holy Bull effort in which he showed getaway down the stretch in that race. When I try to find a Derby horse, one of the criteria is the ability to kick away regardless of pace. This guy has that; at 15-1 on this weekend’s Derby Future Wager, I am willing to go for it now.

I will be a guest on the Three Tailgators on Saturday morning around 11:40 am with Ken Trahan and Ed Daniels. I wonder aloud what this exacta box is going for Mr. Daniels. What are we trying to purchase? Is it a special Valentines Day gift? I will do my best and if we lose it is not for a lack of preparation that’s for sure.
Until next time, may your winners be plentiful and your wallets be fat.

  • < PREV Seven local squads take pitch Saturday in state soccer quarterfinals
  • NEXT > Interview: Ryan Manale on taking head football coaching job at Jesuit

George Pepis

Horse Racing Analyst

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

George Pepis provides racing analysis during each Fair Grounds racing season. He also shares commentary and selections for major stakes events and prep races around the country. In the past, George has hosted sports talk programming on WGSO 990am in New Orleans. He has served as both play-by-play and color analyst on Louisiana high school football radio and internet broadcasts.

Read more >