Risen Star Picks and Preview

Guest Suite Ready to Rise to Penthouse in Risen Star

The 45th running of the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at The Fair Grounds is set for race 11 on Saturday, Feb. 25.  The Risen Star is the first race of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series and awards 85 points with 50-20-10-5 going to the top four finishers.  The morning line favorite Mo Town (7/2) ships in from his winter base at Payson Park to make his first start since winning the Remsen on November 262016.  He’s been working up a storm down south and he comes into this off three consecutive 5 furlong bullet works which were all labeled breezing.

For fans and horse players that aren’t familiar with Payson Park, it’s a very deep and demanding surface and it will get horses fit with long gallops and nice work patterns.  We also need to point out that Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez is making the trip to the Big Easy as he’s been in the irons in Mo Town’s last two victories.

Mo Town is the most accomplished shipper in today’s Risen Star, and he’s owned by the Cooolmore contingent and Team D. But we really feel he’s up against it today as the local base runners are fit and ready to fire huge efforts against him. One thing to note as well, is the form in the Remsen hasn’t held up as the runner up No Dozing was very lackluster and had no run in the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs.  Also the show finisher Takaful, was very disappointing in the Jermome S. at Aqueduct as he finished dead last as the even money favorite.

Guest Suite galloping strong in the Lecomte

We’re very bullish on Guest Suite (6/1), who we road to the betting window in the local LeComte (G3) four weeks ago and he didn’t let us down in a 1 ¼ length victory.He appears even better entering the Risen Star, and his conditioner Neil Howard knows this colt has the goods. He’s being very coy as he knows it’s a long way till the 1st Saturday in May. Guest Suite has been working like a beast in the mornings over the Fair Grounds main track and is ready to fire a huge race down the lane at a nice price (6/1). Guest Suite is the co-third choice along with the very unaccomplished Girvin (6/1) with only a maiden to his resume.
Guest Suite will likely be no less than 2nd choice and probably will be vying for favoritism when the gates open Saturday afternoon. The pace of this race fits right into his running style as this field has many need to lead types in the starting gate. Rider Robby Albarado should cover up early on and let the field spread out in front of him as this gelding from Quality Road has very nice tactical speed and he should be sitting mid-pack before unleashing his big run on the turn.  A victory by Guest Suite in the Risen Star will make him the new BUZZ horse on the Kentucky Derby trail.  This gelding isn’t fully cranked up and he looks ready to explode on the scene for his low profile trainer Neil Howard.

The big backside buzz horse for the Risen Star is Local Hero (4/1). He’s coming into this race off an explosive maiden win by 7 ¼ length and he’s campaigned by Steve Asmussen. Also note Local Hero will have the services of the leading jock in Florent Geroux in the irons. This is a big step upoff a maiden win to the Risen Star (G3), and  Local Hero is strictly a presser and he will have ample company with stronger horses challenging him up front before the real running starts down the lane. Cool Arrow (15/1) is a need to lead type and Girvin (6/1) will have to go from the rail or he will lose all chance as he will get shut off if he takes back around the first turn. Takeoff (10/1) will be on his heels as well.  The morning line favorite Mo Town won’t be that far back as he has plenty early speed and will also be keen to go as he’s coming off a long layoff.

We are looking at two very live long shots that we feel will pick up the pieces down the lane and are a must use in exactas and trifectas. Both Untrapped (10/1) and Shareholder Value (15/1) offer value for a nice payoff and we’ll include the with our win and place wagers on Guest Suite.

The Risen Star is race 11 at the Fair Grounds with a post time of 5 p.m. Central. Check out the other four stakes races Saturday at the Fair Grounds, as the big day of racing includes the Daisy Devine, Rachel Alexandra, Mineshaft Handicap and Fair Grounds Handicap, which can provide a bankroll builder before the Derby prep headliner Rise Star.

Kenny Schmitt contributed to this article. Follow him on Twitter @FBWinners.

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