2019 Risen Star Stakes Picks

by | Feb 16, 2019 | Horse Betting

War of Will looks solid in Risen Star Stakes but…

Risen Star Stakes-G2, Race 12, Fair Grounds, Saturday February 16, 2019
Distance: 1 1/16-miles. Surface: Dirt. Purse: $400,000

2019 Risen Star Stakes Picks

  • 1. War of Will
  • 2. Mr. Money
  • 3. Country House (Longshot Play)
  • 4. Henley’s Joy

Morning-line favourite War of Will looks solid in the Risen Star Stakes-G2 today at Fair Grounds, but there are some upset possibilities.

War of Will tracked a pressured pace from the outside throughout in the LeComte Stakes-G3 in his first start off the layoff in his last and drew off to win by four lengths. He was full of run throughout in that race and did have some solid stakes performances to back him up from last year.

He has now won two in a row in the same fashion since being switched from turf to dirt and he was clearly better than the horses he faced in the LeComte. Trainer Mark Casse has good numbers with horses making their second start off the layoff and War of Will, despite his wide post, should get the trip he’s looking for.

Mr. Money makes his first start off the layoff for trainer Bret Calhoun and will be an overlay if he goes off anywhere close to his 12-1 morning-line odds. Calhoun is hitting at 24% with layoff horses and Mr. Money ran a good race when last seen finishing fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile-G1.

He was keen to run in that race and had to steady mildly a few times before making a good move around the turn inside winner Game Winner. He was no match for that one down the lane, but there are no Game Winners in here. If Mr. Money is ready, he could make a solid bid in the stretch at a nice price.

Henley’s Joy is a surprise package making his first start on the dirt for trainer Michael Maker, who is 14% with horses switching from turf to dirt. Henley’s Joy does have a little class to him however. He won the Kentucky Downs Juvenile last year and finished second beaten a nose in the Bourbon Stakes-G3.

After going unplaced in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf-G1, Henley’s Joy came back to win the Pulpit Stakes at Gulfstream and finished second beaten a neck in the Kittens Joy, also on the turf at Gulfstream. He can finish strongly and if he handles dirt, he has enough class to finish in the money with this bunch. One thing to note however, his regular jockey, Tyler Gafflione, sticks with favourite War of Will.

Manny Wah will be gunning for the lead just as he did in the Le Comte, where he finished third after forcing the pace from the outside and taking the lead into the stretch. If he gets loose, he could do some damage, but he was no match for War of Will in his last.

Owendale looked good beating the favourite in an allowance race at Fair Grounds in his last and now moves up to face stakes company. He earned a big number in his last, but he beat a short field on a good track and we have to think he’s going to have a tougher time in here. At 6-1 on the morning-line we’re not buying him as the winner, although with his best race he could finish in the superfecta.

Country House is making his first stakes appearance for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott and at 20-1 on the morning line he could be the perfect sleeper in here. He broke terrible in his last and was well back early before making a nice move on the turn and powering home to break his maiden by five lengths. He looks like he’s still developing and learning, but rider Luis Saez comes over from Gulfstream Park to ride him and if he gets any kind of pace up front, he’s our longshot exactor play.

Limonite makes his first start off the layoff for top trainer Steve Asmussen and looked like he was getting better when laid up last year after a third-place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes-G2 at Churchill Downs over a sloppy track. He rallied from the back of the pack after stalking a fast pace that day and he could also rally into the superfecta today.

Plus Que Parfait stumbled at the break in his first start off the layoff in the LeComte Stakes in his last but actually had a decent trip stalking a forced pace from the outside before coming up empty in the drive. He could improve in his second start off the layoff. A performance similar to his rallying second in the fast-paced Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last year at Churchill Downs gives him a shot to finish in the money.

Hog Creek Hustle has some try in him, and while he was no match for War of Will in the LeComte, he gave it everything he had in the stretch to finish second. He’s gradually improving and with a perfect pace scenario he could also rally into the superfecta.

Frolic More bobbled at the start in his first start off the layoff and still managed to finish second to Owendale while at the same time improving on his best Beyer Speed Figure from last year by 24 points, going from a 64 to an 88. A potential bounce candidate, he looks like a tryer and could finish in the superfecta but his trainer Dallas Stewart is 1-for-20 in graded stakes. Stewart is however, 21% with horses making their second start off a layoff.

Gun It got into the Risen Star off the also eligibles with the scratch of Kingly, and he should be part of the early pace scenario. He forced the issue in his last at Fair Grounds from the outside and opened up into the final turn but was no match for Frolic More and Owendale when they hit the top of the stretch and faded to finish third.

Chase the Ghost really had no excuse in the LeComte, layoff or otherwise, and he looks to be a minor player, although he does fit the angle of making his second start on the class raise. Roiland is another making his second start off the layoff for top trainer Tom Amoss, but he seems to be a bit of a plodder and he really had nothing down the lane in the Le Comte. He simply doesn’t look to be good enough. Dunph makes his first start off the layoff after an early-move bid-tire third-place finish in the Springboard Million at Remington Park in December. He should be sitting reasonably close to the pace and make a move on the turn, but these are tougher than he faced last year.

Risen Star Top Pick

With the scratch of speed horse Kingly, the early lead will likely go to Manny Wah, with Owendale and War of Will pressing from the outside. If Manny Wah opens a clear lead he could go a long way, but we think he’ll be pressured by War of Will before too long.

The early lead will likely go to Manny Wah, with Gun It, Owendale and War of Will pressing from the outside. If Manny Wah opens a clear lead he could go a long way, but we think he’ll be pressured by War of Will before too long.

If War of Will repeats his last two races, he should open up into the stretch and hold safe to the wire. We’re hoping Many Wah or Owendale can force him to work a little on the turn however, setting the race up for our longshot play, Country House.

We’ll pick War of Will on top, but you know who we’ll be hoping for!

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