The top three finishers in the Jan. 17 Lecomte Stakes will face several new shooters in the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes Feb. 21 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
The Risen Star, for 3-year-olds at 1-1/16 miles, is the final local prep for the $750,000 Louisiana Derby March 28. The 11th race on the Saturday card, the Risen Star has a probable post time of 5:24 p.m. CST.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's International Star, who is based at Gulfstream Park with trainer Mike Maker this winter, shipped to New Orleans to capture the Lecomte. The Fusaichi Pegasus colt had a ground-saving trip from the rail in the Lecomte but had to find room under Miguel Mena before he drew off to win by 2-1/2 lengths in 1:43.62 for one mile and 70 yards.
The race marked the first dirt victory for International Star, who last year won the Grey Stakes on Polytrack at Woodbine. He has been working nicely at Gulfstream and will be ridden again by Mena from post 10 in a 10-horse field as the 120-pound co-topweight with Godolphin Racing's Imperia.
Loooch Racing Stables and Christopher Dunn's War Story, and Mike McCarty's Tiznow R J finished second and third, respectively, in the Lecomte.
RISEN STAR STAKES DRAW
War Story, a gelding by Northern Afleet, was entered in the Southwest Stakes -- it was scheduled to be run Feb. 16 at Oaklawn Park and was moved to Feb. 21-22 because of a weather cancellation -- but trainer Tom Amoss earlier said he would opt for the Risen Star. California-based Kent Desormeaux is named to ride War Story from post six at 116 pounds.
Tiznow R J, a Tiznow colt trained by Steve Asmussen, drew post 2 with Robby Albarado named again at 116 pounds. Tiznow R J, who finished only a head behind War Story in the Lecomte, previously broke his maiden by 13-1/4 lengths at Fair Grounds in December.
Imperia, a Medaglia d'Oro colt trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, will make his 3-year-old debut in the Risen Star. In his final start Nov. 29 of last year, Imperia finished a strong second in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs behind El Kabeir, who since has won the Jerome Stakes and finished second in the Withers Stakes.
Mike Smith gets the call aboard Imperia from post 5. The colt has been working steadily at Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida.
Another shipper in the Risen Star is Donegal Racing's Keen Ice, who finished fifth in the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream in his previous start for trainer Dale Romans. Keen Ice, a late-running Curlin colt, will be ridden by James Graham -- he rode War Story last time out -- from post 8 at 116 pounds