Twenty-three horses were entered for Saturday’s Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds. Instead of excluding nearly half of the entries, the parent company of the Fair Grounds — Churchill Downs Inc. — ponied up an additional $400,000 and will run two divisions of the Risen Star.
The races are the first this year to offer 85 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Those points will be distributed to the first four finishers in each division with 50 points for first, 20 for second, 10 for third, and five points for finishing fourth.
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The first division goes as race 12 on the 13-race card and features a rematch of the 1-2-3 finishers of the Grade III Lecomte Stakes run at Fair Grounds on Jan 18. The Lecomte was won from off the pace by Enforceable (trained by Mark Casse), with runner-up Silver State (Steve Asmussen) also rallying from far back. Mr. Monomoy (Brad Cox) stalked the leaders and held on well to finish third.
A new face to consider in the first division is Farmington Road. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Farmington Road tried two turns for the first time and proved best over Maidens at Tampa Bay Downs. The lazy sort was hard ridden throughout, but he continues to improve as the distances increase and could find the nine-furlong trip of the Risen Star to his liking. Javier Castellano flies in for the mount.
The second division of the Risen Star appears to have come up softer than the first. California shipper Anneau d’Or was beaten just a head in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, and followed up with a game runner-up effort to the undefeated Thousand Words in the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity in December. Anneau d’Or is fitted with blinkers by trainer Blaine Wright in hopes of helping the son of Medaglia d’Oro notch his first win on dirt.
Lynn’s Map (trained by Casse) failed to fire in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn, but his previous Allowance win suggests he may prefer Fair Grounds. Finnick the Fierce (Rey Hernandez) was fanned extremely wide trying to rally in the Lecomte and also gets blinkers for the Risen Star.
British Idiom returns
British Idiom, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies and was crowned champion two-year-old filly of 2019, makes her sophomore debut in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds Saturday. She faces the 1-2-3 finishers of the Silverbulletday Stakes — Finite, Ursula, and Tempers Rising.
Finite was extra game in her Silverbulletday win, proving best by a neck over Ursula for her fourth straight victory. However, Ursula caught the eye pulling away again on the gallop out and may be the controlling speed in the Rachel Alexandra.
Diodoro red hot at Oaklawn
Oaklawn Park has been offering big field sizes, good quality racing, and excellent wagering opportunities since opening January 24. For horseplayers, it has paid to follow trainer Robertino Diodoro.
Runner-up to Steve Asmussen for leading trainer at the 2019 Oaklawn meet, Diodoro won three races on three of the four race days last week. He has won with 13 of his last 26 starters and is 17-for-42 (40 percent) for the meet. He has an eight-win cushion over Asmussen going into the new week.
Diodoro loses lots of runners via the claim box and is always active adding to his stable the same way. As a result, there could be times when the barn gets quiet as they reload.
But horseplayers can expect Diodoro to continue to be aggressive spotting his horses. Jockeys David Cohen and Orlando Mojica are his “go-to” riders.
More Thursday cancellations at SA
Santa Anita has cancelled scheduled Thursday racing cards for Feb. 27, March 5, and March 12 due to concerns over field size.
The California Horse Racing Board assigned 12 “flex dates” to be used between Dec. 26 and June 21 for cancellations due to reasons such as poor weather or a lack of race-ready horses. The cancellations bring the total flex dates used to seven so far this meet.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Oaklawn Park Thursday, Race 1: Sonny Smack (No. 1). This gelding was taken far off a walking pace and was left with too much to do last time. Look for him to show more tactical speed and be in striking position turning for home.