Risen Star Stakes scouting report

Saturday, Feb. 7, Fair Grounds

The Low-Down: The 36th running of the Risen Star has been historically used as the last prep before the bayou's marquee spring race, the Louisiana Derby. This year's renewal is an interesting heat, and a couple of legitimate Kentucky Derby contenders could emerge.

Our Eyes: FRIESAN FIRE looked solid winning the Lecomte Stakes for trainer Larry Jones, who also will send out stablemate IT HAPPENED AGAIN in the Risen Star. The Jones barn also holds a potential Derby ace in OLD FASHIONED, who sits this one out in preparation for next week's Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

First things first, FRIESAN FIRE rematches against several Lecomte challengers, including INDYGO MOUNTAIN, who had the Derby chasers all abuzz after his impressive win at Churchill Downs last fall. I'm not sure his trouble at the start in the Lecomte was a real excuse, but I'm willing to forgive a lightly-raced sophomore from one bad effort. The proof will be in the pudding in the Risen Star. This royally bred A.P. Indy colt will need to move forward, or trainer Bret Calhoun might be forced to regroup. Meanwhile, the favorite's role for the Lecomte landed with GIANT OAK in the morning line. He hasn't been seen since running second in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club back in November at Churchill Downs, but he's working super for trainer Chris Block, who has high hopes for this Giant's Causeway colt. Everybody else in this race will need to step way up.

The Bottom Line: I'm going to take a little shot with GIANT OAK to spring the mild upset here. Even though GIANT OAK is favored in the morning line, I think that the public will play FRIESAN FIRE to the choice. GIANT OAK figures to go postward at a juicy 4-1 or 5-1, and to me that would warrant a play. I have the utmost respect for FRIESAN FIRE and GIANT OAK, and the winner of the Risen Star likely will go postward as one of the favorites in the Louisiana Derby, a race that also is expected to feature Rick Dutrow's new recruit PATENA, who will take plenty of action after his second in the Lecomte. For more information on the Risen Star or any other full-card handicaps from Louisiana, Florida, New York, Chicago or California, visit us at horseplayerpro.com. Good luck in the Risen Star!

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