The Risen Star Stakes Picks – Road to the Kentucky Derby

Machen worth a shot at a price in 2011 Risen Star Stakes


2011 Road to the Kentucky Derby

The Risen Star Stakes, Fair Grounds, Race 10, Saturday, February 19, 2011

Grade II, 1 1/16 Miles, Dirt, Purse $300,000


1.       Machen

2.       Santiva  

3.       Pants On Fire

4.       Mucho Macho Man


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The 38th running of the Risen Star Stakes looks like an excellent betting
race and you should get your price regardless of who you decide to wager
on.  We’ll be going with Machen and hoping we get 4-1 or better.


Listed at 6-1 on the morning line, the 3-year-old colt by Distorted Humor
is a perfect two-for-two and the feeling is we haven’t seen the best
of him yet. After romping in a six-furlong Maiden Special Weight at Fair
Grounds on January 2 and recording a Beyer Speed Figure of 94, Machen followed
up with five-length victory in a condition allowance race going a mile and
70 yards at Fair Grounds on January 30, for which he was given a 78 Beyer
Speed Figure.


In some cases the lower figure recorded on the stretch out might be cause
for concern, but if you watch the replay it’s obvious that Machen’s
trip was the reason for the lower number. He broke slow, was steadying early,
was under a strong hold behind horses to the stretch and ran away from the
field in the stretch when asked. He will have to improve again to win the
Risen Star, and he’ll need a better ride than he got in his last start.
But the price will be right.


Santiva hasn’t run since winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes
at Churchill Downs going 1 1/16-miles on November 27, 2010 but he has been
working well for this, and he will get a good trip behind the speed. There’s
no questioning his heart based on the way he won his last. Sandwiched between
horses in the drive he looked beaten in the stretch duel but found more
to prevail by a ½-length. The question is whether he will be fit
enough off an 11-week layoff.


Morning-line favorite Rogue Romance makes his first start since running
third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile behind current Kentucky Derby
favorite Uncle Mo on November 6, 2010. We just don’t see much value
at 3-1 although we could see him finishing in the money based on the fact
that there should be a decent and possibly contested pace.


Mucho Macho Man, the second choice on the morning line at 4-1, returned
from a two month layoff to finish a tired fourth in the one-mile Holy Bull
Stakes on January 30 after pressing a fast pace. He should be the first
to get the jump on the pacesetters in the stretch if he can settle and rate
from just off the pace. He’ll get blinkers off today in an attempt
to relax his natural speed but he is yet another who still has to prove
he can lay it down when it counts. With a perfect trip his best race is
good enough to win this.


Decisive Moment and Pants on Fire should ensure a good pace and there are
a few others in here that could join that pair at the expense of not being
around at the end of the race.


Decisive Moment comes into the Risen Star off a front-running 3 ½-length
victory in the one-mile Jean Laffite Stakes at Delta Downs on January 14
off a seven week layoff. He set a good pace under pressure in that race
and still had enough left to open up in the stretch. While he can improve
off that race, these horses are much better. Pants On Fire will probably
give Decisive Moment all he can handle up front based on his narrow front-running
loss in the LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds going a mile and 40 yards on
January 22. He lost by a head to Wilkinson that day, succumbing only in
the late stages after a gutsy try, and it was his first start at Fair Grounds.
 And if Pants On Fire somehow manages to sneak to an open lead he actually
has a shot to steal this race.


Action Ready has worked well for the Risen Star but he was beaten five
lengths by Pants on Fire in the LeComte while finishing third. He should
get a good trip behind the speed, and the LeComte was his first stakes try,
so he does fit the angle of improving in his second start after a class
raise. Justin Phillip has some talent but was beaten 14 ¼-lengths
in the LeComte in a blinkers-on experiment that didn’t work. The blinkers
come back off today and it’s a guessing game as to how he will perform.


Sorgho shipped from Fair Grounds to Sam Houston to beat up on maidens in
his third lifetime start on January 31 but faces much tougher here and would
have to improve dramatically to win. Lion Drive has low numbers and comes
into the Risen Star off a 54 ½ length drubbing in allowance race
on February 5. No thanks.


Good Luck!