Risen Star Stakes Odds and Picks: Handicapping Saturday’s Four-Race Package at Fair Grounds

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Horse racing fixes its gaze on the Risen Star Stakes, Saturday’s feature at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. Here’s a look at odds and picks for the Risen Star Stakes, as well as an overview of the three stakes races preceding the main event.

Given the enormous stakes of a guaranteed Kentucky Derby invitation to the winner, 14 entries are listed for the Risen Star.

It has a 7:14 p.m. ET post time and concludes a dynamic four-race package that includes:

  • The $250,000 Mineshaft Stakes at 1 1/6 miles on the dirt. Post time is 5:37 p.m. ET
  • The $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on turf. Post time is 6:09 p.m. ET
  • The $250,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at 1 1/6 miles on dirt. Post time is 6:41 p.m. ET

The four-race bundle comprises races 10-13 on a card so loaded its day-long purse payout of $1,780,000 tops the entire industry.

The card begins at 1 p.m. ET and features several races with big fields. Bettors can access the action via FanDuel TV.

Watching earlier races is always a good idea to gain a feel for how the track is playing that day, whether it favors front-running horses, stalkers, or closers.

2023 Risen Star Stakes Field: Post Positions, Odds, Jockeys, Trainers

Here is the field for the Risen Star Stakes.

PPHorseML OddsJockey Trainer
1Quiet as Midnight50-1Emanuel NievesBenard Chatters
2Single Ruler30-1Jose RiquelmeKeith Desormeaux
3Shaq Diesel30-1Adam BeschizzaRenaldo Richards
4Determinedly8-1Reylu GutierrezMark Casse
5Harlocap8-1John VelazquezSteve Asmussen
6Angel of Empire8-1Luis SaezBrad Cox
7Sun Thunder15-1Brian Hernandez Jr.Ken McPeek
8Tapit's Conquest6-1Florent GerouxBrad Cox
9Curly Jack8-1Edgar MoralesTom Amoss
10Two Phil's8-1Jareth LoveberryLarry Rivelli
11Silver Heist12-1Corey LanerieSteve Asmussen
12Crupi15-1James GrahamTodd Pletcher
13Victory Formation3-1Flavien PratBrad Cox
14Private Creed12-1Tyler GaffalioneSteve Asmussen

Risen Star Stakes History and Road to Kentucky Derby Series

The $400,000, 1 1/8-mile dirt test at Fair Grounds has been a major Kentucky Derby prelude in recent years.

Epicenter, who won the 2022 event in a stakes record 1:49.03, later had the Derby won until 80-1 shot Rich Strike thundered through the stretch and stole it. Epicenter finished second.

Mandaloun, the 2021 Risen Star winner, was placed first in the 2021 Derby after a disqualification of the initial winner Medina Spirit.

Other stellar Risen Star graduates include 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem, 2013 Derby Winner Oxbow, and 2019 Preakness champ War of Will.

Breaking Down the Risen Star Stakes Field

The gigantic field presents conflicting betting variables.

Private Creed Victory Formation, Angel of Empire, and Curly Jack come out of the best races, but each must battle some obstacles.

Private Creed was third in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. But he’s now parked in the 14 post for the longest race of his career.

Victory Formation showed excellent recent form in winning the Smarty Jones and does like to use early speed. The 13 hole will do him no favors, although Mandaloun captured this event out of the 11 hole last year.

Risen Star Stakes Odds and Picks: Handicapping Saturday's Four-Race Package at Fair Grounds
Flavien Prat (here aboard Flightline after their victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic) rides Victory Formation in Saturday’s Risen Star Stakes (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Angel of Empire ran a strong second to Victory Formation in the Smarty Jones and would benefit out of the 7 post if Victory Formation is compromised.

Curly Jack in the 9 spot ran a reasonable fifth behind Forte and Cave Rock in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November. The class drop suggests he can be in the top tier.

Determinedly (post 4) has a second-place finish over the track, and Harlocap (post 5) won impressively at Santa Anita on the front. His favorable post position and running style could vault him to the lead, from where he’d be dangerous.

The rest of the field will be trying to move up from allowance or minor-stakes company. Most have been lightly raced and are eligible to improve.

Risen Star Stakes Pace/Betting Overview & Pick Recommendation

Harlocap (5), Victory Formation (13), and perhaps Determinedly (4) usually like the front.

Epicenter won from the front last year. Mandaloun broke sharply and stalked two years ago.

In previous years, the race favored closers.

Demand value. Young three-year-olds are still coming into their own. No patterns have unfolded long enough to be considered etched in stone.

Races Leading Up to the Risen Star Stakes (In Order)

Mineshaft Stakes

Happy American and Mr. Wireless hook up in a rematch of their stretch thriller in the Louisiana Stakes, won by Happy American over this track.

Pioneer of Medina looms as a potential early speed based on his excellent second-place finish in the Harlan’s Holiday at Gulfstream Park.

Big Blue Line has a strong local form at Fair Grounds, now trying to move up.

Remember Tawny Port? He could be viewed in the context of The Road From the Kentucky Derby. He was seventh in the Run for the Roses last May. Ran a puzzling and dull 10th in the Pennsylvania Derby, but now gets big class relief.

Betting consideration: Happy American and Mr. Wireless have the best local form, while Pioneer of Medina has the always-valued early-speed angle.

Gamblers will weigh whether Tawny Port recaptures past form or whether he needs a race back.

Fair Grounds Stakes

This is an excellent collection of high-level performers.

Gentle Soul and Two Emmys gain the initial Fair Grounds home-course edge. They finished 1-2 in the $100,000 Col Bradley Stakes on this surface last month. Both will receive substantial betting action based on being in shape and performing well at this track.

Cavalry Charge has been off for five months but won this race last year.

The Fair Grounds contingent meets a talented group of shippers.

Remember Tiz the Bomb? He was ninth in the Kentucky Derby on dirt last May. He has since been shifted to turf and has held his own. He notched a nice third in the $200,000 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga last summer.

Another New York-based horse, Pixelate, forged a strong second at the $200,000 Knickerbocker last fall.

Both New York horses are strong but must overcome the shipping and layoff factor.

Early betting instinct: You’ve got sharp local horses moving up a little against New York horses dropping in class but coming off layoffs. I will look to use Gentle Soul and Two Emmys in most tickets and will make a race-day decision based on the board. If the majority of bettors see it that way, this is a smaller bet. Because gamblers love to back New York shippers, however, these two may stay under the radar.

Hard to know which New York horse is ready to run a big one off the layoffs.

Rachel Alexandra Stakes

The Rachel Alexandra will appeal to bettors who like to play the win line and bang one exacta box combination.

There are only six horses and the exotics won’t pay well.

Hoosier Philly has looked dynamite in going 3-for-3 and winning the $400,000 Golden Rod at 2-5. She’s beaten Pretty Mischievous, who earlier beat Vahva. Both Vahva and Pretty Mischievous are entered here.

Miracle will get a lot of attention by finishing second in the richest race, the $250,000 Maid of the Mist at Aqueduct.

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About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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