Posts Tagged ‘Rosie Napravnik’

Preakness 2013 Preview: Will Orb overcome inside post?

The field has been set for Preakness 2013 and even money favorite Orb will break from the rail.

Preakness 2013 Post Positions

PP, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, ML Odds

 1. Orb, Shug McGaughey, Joel Rosario  1-1
2. Goldencents, Doug O’Neill, Kevin Krigger  8-1
3. Titletown Five, D. Wayne Lukas, Julien Leparoux  30-1
4. Departing, Al Stall Jr., Brian Hernandez Jr.  6-1
5. Mylute, Tom Amoss, Rosie Napravnik  5-1
6. Oxbow, D. Wayne Lukas, Gary Stevens  15-1
7. Will Take Charge, D. Wayne Lukas, Mike Smith  12-1
8. Govenor Charlie, Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia  12-1
9. Itsmyluckyday, Eddie Plesa Jr., John Velazquez  10-1

Preakness 2013

Jarrod Horak’s Preakness 2013 Preview (in post position order):

1. Orb (Malibu Moon) – Tabasco Cat is the only horse in the last 41 years to win the Preakness Stakes from post one and Orb likes to make wide, sweeping moves. If he is a legit Triple Crown threat the inside post will not bother him and Rosario continues to ride great. I have always liked Shug’s colt but he won’t offer any value in Baltimore.

2. Goldencents (Into Mischief) – SA Derby winner hated the Derby wet track and the pace scenario did not help his cause. He is a quality speed horse but needs everything to go his way to compete vs. these at this distance. Krigger might send him and play catch me if you can.

3. Titletown Five (Tiznow) – He finished in front of Orb in a Saratoga maiden race last summer. He has raw talent but is best as a sprinter at this stage. Interesting that patient rider Leparoux takes over. They are trying to get him to relax.

4. Departing (War Front) – Playing the part of Red Bullet is Departing and taking over the role of Fusaichi Pegasus is Orb. At least that is what trainer Al Stall Jr.  is hoping. He is 4-for-5 lifetime and the LA Derby was a productive prep. He did not beat much in the Illinois Derby but looked good doing it.

5. Mylute (Midnight Lute) – He is winless in seven stakes outings but is usually in the hunt. Napravnik was the queen of Maryland racing when she rode at Laurel/Pimlico and she really wants to win the Preakness.

6. Oxbow (Awesome Again) – Lukas trainee was done in by the quick Derby splits but hung in there to finish a fine 6th. His main problem is that he pulled off wire jobs in both career wins but is not quick enough to grab the early lead in the Preakness.

7. Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner finished a troubled 8th in the Derby. He is a bit interesting if he finds clear sailing under Mike Smith but is not fast enough and has yet to win beyond a mile and a sixteenth.

8. Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute) – G3 Sunland Derby hero is lightly raced and on the improve. He lacks seasoning and has recovered from the minor hind foot issue that forced him to miss the Derby. Look for him to make some noise later this year.

9. Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Eddie Plesa’s colt got the best of the draw based on his preferred outside stalk and pounce style. The Florida Derby runner-up flopped in the Derby and may have peaked in January. Orb beat him in his last pair.

Check out my Friday & Saturday (May 17-18) Black-Eyed Susan & Preakness Day full card analysis from Pimlico (available now) and Bonus Free Pick (PIM 8th race, click view sample) at TodaysRacingDigest.com.

Upcoming full cards:
Pimlico
(Fri. May 17 – Black-Eyed Susan Day) – available now!
Pimlico (Sat. May 18 – Preakness Day) – available now!
Belmont
(Fri. June 7 – Brooklyn ‘Cap Day)
Belmont (Sat. June 8 – Belmont Stakes Day)
Churchill Saturdays (May 25, June 1, June 15, June 22, June 29)

Preakness 2013 Contenders – Will Orb capture second jewel?

Congratulations to Kentucky Derby 2013 hero Orb, and it was nice to see Shug McGaughey saddle his first Derby winner as well. He looks like a runaway locomotive at this point and might be too hot to handle in Preakness 2013.

Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb

Congrats to Kentucky Derby 2013 winner Orb – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Orb was one of my Exciting Prospects when I posted my first Derby Top 10 list last September. He lacked maturity in his first three outings but has really put everything together since. The Derby was his fifth straight win and he goes to Baltimore on a serious roll. He received a great pace setup in the Derby and it could be more of the same in the Preakness with the likes of Titletown Five and Goldencents on the engine early.

Speaking of rolls, jockey Joel Rosario has been unstoppable since winning the Dubai World Cup. Orb is currently preparing for the second jewel at Belmont Park and will ship to Pimlico early next week.

It is fun to talk about Orb’s Triple Crown chances but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. History is not on his side but he does possess all of the tools to give it a serious run. The son of Malibu Moon wheels back quickly on May 18 and it should be noted that he graduated off two weeks rest last year. I also saw a stat on TVG earlier this week about Shug McGaughey clicking at a 50% rate (6-for-12) when he brings horses back in 14-days. New shooter Departing might be his biggest competition.

Look out if Orb makes it past the Preakness but he will still have to beat fresh, talented rival Revolutionary at Big Sandy. That’s a discussion for another day.

Derby runner-up Golden Soul is pointing to the Belmont Stakes. He finished 2nd in the Derby because of the pace and will be an underlay in the Test of Champions.

My Derby selection Revolutionary, the top ranked contender on my Derby list since February, ran well to land the show on the first Saturday in May. I have not lost faith and he reminds me of my past Derby/Belmont picks Empire Maker and Union Rags.

Oxbow was too close to the rapid Derby pace and Normandy Invasion moved too soon. Both are players in Baltimore, especially the latter if Chad Brown opts to go in that direction.

Mylute took advantage of the fleet fractions and was in the show photo (finished 5th). If he runs in the Preakness, note that jockey Rosie Napravnik has plenty of Pimlico experience.

Will Take Charge was making a move with Orb in the Derby but Verrazano was backing up and stopped his momentum. The Derby was his first start beyond a mile and a sixteenth and he was coming off a layoff so it was not a bad effort finishing 8th.

Goldencents seemingly hated the Derby slop and will be part of the Preakness pace, especially if the track is fast.

Click on the names of each horse below (Top 5 contenders) to view their Horse Racing Nation profile page, which includes pedigree information, results, and video.

Jarrod Horak’s Preakness 2013 Contenders

Orb (Malibu Moon) – Won his fifth straight race for Shug McGaughey in the G1 Kentucky Derby (wet track) and the strong finisher adapts to various pace scenarios. Red hot jockey Joel Rosario has been on a roll since the Dubai Gold Cup and he is an obvious major stretch player in Baltimore.

Departing (War Front) – Finished 3rd in the productive Louisiana Derby and overcame a wide draw to smartly take down the Illinois Derby. The Al Stall Jr. runner is a dangerous new shooter and it is nice to see him join the Triple Crown series.

Normandy Invasion (Tapit) – Chad Brown’s colt trained aggressively and moved too soon under Javier Castellano in the Derby. He needs to sit back with Orb and make a big late run in the Preakness. He is reportedly much more relaxed since returning to New York. His ultimate goal is the G1 Travers at the Spa in August.

Mylute (Midnight Lute) – LA Derby runner-up rallied to finish 5th on the first Saturday in May under Rosie Napravnik. Trainer Tom Amoss said that his Preakness status would be revealed on Saturday morning.

Oxbow horse

Oxbow was too close to the hot Derby pace – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

Oxbow (Awesome Again) – G3 Lecomte hero shows up for every dance and finished a solid 6th in the Derby after attending fast fractions from an inner post under Gary Stevens. Lukas trainee can rate but went all the way in both career wins. His main problem is that he is usually not quick enough to grab the early lead.

Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song) – Smarty Jones/Rebel winner finished a respectable 8th in the Derby. He did find some traffic but that is to be expected in a 19-horse field. Mike Smith will ride in the Preakness and he could improve 2nd off the shelf.

Itsmyluckyday (Lawyer Ron) – Eddie Plesa Jr.’s colt was the talk of Florida earlier this year at the Gulf. The Holy Bull hero played second fiddle to Orb in the Florida Derby and finished a disappointing 15th on the first Saturday in May. John Velazquez will ride in the Preakness.

Preakness Dreamers:

Goldencents (Into Mischief) – Doug O’Neill’s quality early-pressing type seemingly hated the Derby wet track and the pace scenario did not help either. He earned a strong number in the SA Derby and is capable of big efforts on fast ground under the proper race shape.

Govenor Charlie (Midnight Lute) – Smartly captured G3 Sunland Derby in his third career start. The Baffert trainee has plenty of upside but still lacks seasoning. He wisely passed on the Derby and has seemingly recovered from a minor hind foot issue. Worked 6f in 1:11.80 (1/3) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Street Spice (Street Sense) – Illinois Derby 5th place finisher seems up against it in the Preakness. He likely needs to find a softer spot to be competitive. Breezed 5f from the gate in 1:03.40 (27/33) at Arlington Park on 5-4.

Titletown Five (Tiznow) – Has lost all three starts this year and looks like a sprinter at this point. He will attend the Preakness pace before fading. Breezed 4f in :47.60 (5/35) at Churchill Downs on 5-7.

Vyjack (Into Mischief) – 18th place Derby finisher has now dropped two straight. He came out of the Wood Memorial with a lung infection and that hiccup probably cost him under the Twin Spires. He has talent but is not sharp right now.

Kentucky Derby 2013 Week Videos

The field is set for Kentucky Derby 2013 and it has been a crazy week at the offices of HorseRacingNation.com.

On Tuesday, I traveled to Churchill Downs and interviewed trainer Michelle Lovell. She is based at Fair Grounds in the winter and Churchill Downs in the spring. I wanted to find out about the differences in the two tracks and I also asked her about Rosie Napravnik, Mylute, and the Fair Grounds Derby horses.

Thursday was fun. I got to shoot three videos with special guests. Ryan Patterson had a great idea about a video consisting of a wet track scenario for the Derby. We did not have time to shoot it last week but jumped right into that one after checking the weather forecast for the first Saturday in May.

I have not done a video with Mike Shutty for quite some time. It was good to see him again and our video theme was live Derby longshots. If you need help in the Derby, check out Mike’s Kentucky Derby Super Screener product.

Finally, Jasen Mangrum contacted me last week and we set up a video for Thursday afternoon. I told him to pick a topic and he settled on the Kentucky Oaks-Woodford Reserve Turf Classic-Kentucky Derby Pick 3. Also, check out the Super Screener Handicapping Seminars.

My Kentucky Derby Day full card selections are now available:

Check out my Kentucky Derby 2013 full card at HorseRacingNation.com

If you would like to hear our Derby Day thoughts, I will be at my regular weekend spot on The Fast Track with Steve Bortstein radio show on Saturday morning (weekends at 10am eastern time).

Special thanks to my video editor and photographer, Stacy Edwards.

Kentucky Derby 2013 contenders video featuring Normandy Invasion & Mylute

This is our fourth in a five part video series devoted to Kentucky Derby 2013 contenders. All of the major prep races have been run and final workouts and the post position draw are all that remain.

Each video will consist of four contenders. In this video, we discuss Arkansas Derby runner-up Frac Daddy, Louisiana Derby runner-up Mylute, Wood Memorial runner-up Normandy Invasion, and Blue Grass runner-up Palace Malice.

Thanks to Ryan Patterson for joining me in this video series. We will release the final video on Sunday night.

Jockey Meet & Greet at Old Friends

Monday was Jockey Meet & Greet Day at Old Friends and we got a chance to spend some time with Jean Cruguet and Rosie Napravnik.

Jean Cruguet won more than 2,400 races in a lengthy career that ended in 1996. He is probably best known for winning the Triple Crown aboard Seattle Slew.

Rosie and Stacy at Old Friends

Rosie and Stacy at Old Friends

Rising star Rosie Napravnik, reigning queen of Fair Grounds, recently topped the 1,500 win mark. She made history aboard Shanghai Bobby in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but that one is off the Derby trail following an unplaced effort in the Florida Derby on March 30. She said that she hopes to pick up a Derby mount within the next two weeks…stay tuned!

Rosie was very accommodating to all of the fans on Monday, posing for pictures, answering questions, and signing autographs. She gets back to work at Keeneland on Wednesday.

It was fun strolling through Old Friends and visiting with many of my past equine buddies including Bull Inthe Heather, Clever Allemont, Danthebluegrassman, and Ogygian.

Bull Inthe Heather is still full of energy and personality at age 23. The son of Ferdinand won the G1 Florida Derby in 1993 and finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby later that year. He was determined to get his carrots earlier today as the video below clearly illustrates.

Ogygian may have lost a step or two but the one-eyed wonder is loving retired life at the ripe old age of 30. He won 7 of 10 lifetime starts between 1985-87 and was one of my early favorites as a young racing fan back in the day.

Ogygian chillin' out at Old Friends

Ogygian chillin’ out at Old Friends

Old Friends is an important organization and we should all considering contributing to the well-being of these special animals when their careers on the racetrack come to an end. To learn more about Old Friends and to find out how you can help, visit their website at http://www.oldfriendsequine.org/

After the Old Friends event, we traveled to Kentucky Horse Park and spent the rest of the day reminiscing about equine legends John Henry, Man O’War, and Secretariat.

This is just the beginning of our Blue Grass Stakes week coverage. The Blue Grass draw will be held at Keeneland on Wednesday and we will be there all day snapping pictures and shooting videos. We hope to add some special guests to the mix and will post a Blue Grass handicapping preview later this week as well.

For more on our day at Old Friends and Kentucky Horse Park, please visit Stacy’s Kentucky horse racing photos page.

Risen Star Stakes 2013 video + written analysis

The 2013 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds is worth 50 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. My special video guest this week is Molly Jo Rosen from RacingWithBruno.com. I have also included my written analysis (with wagering strategies) below.

#1 PROUD STRIKE (8-1) has faced decent runners and exits a local key race graduation run at this trip (off the turf). Stevens hops aboard for Asmussen and the $240k purchase should get better with age.

#2 Code West (6-1) invades for Baffert and was flattered when stablemate Super Ninety Nine returned to romp in the G3 Southwest. The consistent stalking type removes the hood.

#9 Normandy Invasion (5-2) makes his first start of 2013 for Chad Brown and will be finishing. He earned a big fig in the Remsen.

#6 Palace Malice (8-1) is a highly regarded Pletcher runner trying two turns for the first time. Napravnik rides.

#4 Golden Soul (20-1) was my G3 Lecomte top and was a distant 2nd that day. He is training well for this and is my longshot underneath key in the Trifecta.

#10 Oxbow (5-1) ran away from his G3 Lecomte foes and will probably try similar front running tactics.

Check out my Saturday (Feb 23) Fair Grounds full card analysis (available now) and Bonus Free Pick (FG 13th race, click view sample) at TodaysRacingDigest.com.

#5 Mylute (6-1) exits a runaway local optional claiming route win but leading rider Napravnik abandons.

#13 Circle Unbroken (20-1) looks like a sprinter.

#3 Agent (30-1), #7 Hardrock Eleven (50-1), and #8 Ive Struck a Nerve (30-1) all appear overmatched.

#11 Bethel (50-1) is cross-entered in an optional claiming route earlier in the day (Fair Grounds race 4).

#15 Sunbean (12-1) is cross-entered in the Gentilly Stakes for LA-breds (Fair Grounds race 3).

#12 He’s Had Enough (10-1) will scratch from this spot in favor of the Fountain of Youth Stakes at the Gulf.

#14 Departing (12-1) is expected to scratch out of this event in favor of a stakes spot at Sam Houston next weekend.

THE PLAYS:

#1 to win

Trifecta 1-2-6-9/ALL/4

 

Belmont Stakes 2012 Bloodlines: Five Sixteen

Which horse has the best pedigree to handle twelve furlongs in the final leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday, June 9 at Belmont Park? My Belmont Stakes alphabetical list continues with Five Sixteen.

 

Belmont Stakes 2012 logoFive Sixteen’s sire Invasor (ARG) raced 12 times from 2005-07. He won eleven times including the G1 BC Classic in 2006, defeating Bernardini. He captured the Dubai World Cup in ’07 and banked more than $7.8 million in his career. His current stud fee is $20k.

Invasor’s sire Candy Stripes (by Blushing Groom) won 2 of 6 starts and finished 2nd in the G1 French Two Thousand Guineas in 1985. He sired 59 stakes winners including Leroidesanimeaux (BRZ). He died of colic in 2007 at age 25.

Read the rest of this post at HorseRacingNation.com.

Kentucky Derby 2012 Aftermath: What Happened to Union Rags?

The 138th running of the Kentucky Derby went according to script from a pace standpoint and I’ll Have Another ran down Bodemeister after sitting the perfect outside stalking trip.

Post position was critical in the outcome of Kentucky Derby 2012 and the key was the draw of the speed horses. Bodemeister (post 6) drew inside the other pace players and hit the ground running under Mike Smith.

I'll Have Another

Will I’ll Have Another win the Preakness? – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

I’ll Have Another was comfortably drawn outside the other speedsters in post 19 and his young rider Mario Gutierrez did a great job angling him in early and positioning him within striking range throughout.

I’ll Have Another is better than recent Derby winners Mine That Bird and Super Saver but probably not as good as Animal Kingdom. He was in the right spot to take advantage of a strung out field on the first Saturday in May and I want him to go out and prove it again at Pimlico.

Bodemeister ran a winning race but was forced to expend too much early energy and could not hold off I’ll Have Another. He wires the field if speedy sprinter Trinniberg is not entered.

Union Rags lost the race at the start and my troubled Derby tops have been down this road before (Lookin At Lucky, Point Given, Hansel, Risen Star). He reminds me of Lookin At Lucky the most. My 2010 Derby top experienced troubled trips in the SA Derby and Ky Derby that year under Garrett Gomez. Baffert made the switch to Martin Garcia and he proceeded to win the Preakness, Haskell, and Indiana Derby.

Julien Leparoux has gotten Union Rags into trouble in back-to-back races and it is time for a change. Just like ‘Lucky and Gomez, the karma is not there for some reason. Who would I like to see on Union Rags? I am thinking Rosie Napravnik. She always seems to put her horses in the right spot and gives them every chance to succeed.

Also, rewind your mind to the Gulf this winter when Javier Castellano ditched Union Rags for a plethora of Pletcher runners including Algorithms. Maybe Michael Matz gives him a second chance.

Let’s recap the entire field…

1st – I’ll Have Another: Post 19 was perfect because he drew outside the other speed horses and was able to keep Bodemeister in his sights throughout. I have never been on his bandwagon and am not about to hop aboard now but you gotta love his positional speed and winning spirit.

2nd Bodemeister: Ran great considering Trinniberg forced him to go too fast early. He has accomplished so much in a short time this year and I would like to see him get a well-deserved break. Preakness remains a possibility but that would be three races in five weeks and he could bounce to the moon following his grueling Derby run.

3rdDullahan: Not surprised that the Keeneland specialist clunked up for a minor award because he did the same thing in the BC Juvenile. He handles any footing but clearly does his best work in Lexington.

4th Went The Day Well: Nice late run to garner a minor award under the Twin Spires. He was one of my projected trifecta/superfecta contenders so he ran as I expected. He will prepare for the Preakness at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.

5thCreative Cause: Made a wide run to get into 3rd but lost the show late when Dullahan and Went The Day Well shot past him. He beat Bodemeister in March and was a nose behind I’ll Have Another in April so he is right there with these on his best day and can make some noise in the Preakness.

6thLiaison: Ended up a better than expected 6th from post 20. He still has not won a race since last December.

Union Rags

Look for Union Rags to have a new rider in the near future – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

7thUnion Rags: A real shame that he did not get to strut his stuff in the Derby. I still think he is the best 3yo in the land and at this point it looks he might skip the Preakness and wait for the Belmont Stakes. He probably wins the second jewel if he goes in that direction.

8thRousing Sermon: Decent CA-bred has not won since moving into open company last November. He packs a nice late kick and could resurface in the Belmont Stakes.

9th Hansen: Never looked like a ten furlong horse and faded under Twin Spires as expected. Juvenile champ is now 1-for-4 in 2012.

10thDaddy Nose Best: Split the field in a bit of disappointing run considering he was training well for the big dance. He handles dirt, synthetic, and turf so Asmussen has plenty of options in the coming months.

11thOptimizer: Not a terrible effort beating nine rivals from post two. He has now dropped seven straight on conventional dirt but Lukas will surely keep him on the Triple Crown trail. He is a decent turf/synthetic horse.

Alpha

I am expecting Alpha to make some noise later this year – photo by Eclipse Sportswire

12thAlpha: Missed a key Derby work after being diagnosed with a leg infection after the Wood Memorial. He reminds me of Stay Thirsty and I fully expect him to blossom later this year.

13th El Padrino: Had a slow start and a rough trip early. He passed a few rivals after sitting in last early and has not been the same since grueling nose victory in G2 Risen Star. I always had the feeling that he was better on wet footing.

14th Done Talking: Late runner passed a few tired foes and ran to expectations.

15thSabercat: Figured to finish near the bottom.

16thGemologist: Folded like a cheap suit when the real running began. Guess Pletcher’s plan to avoid Kentucky and train in Florida backfired.

17thTrinniberg: Seven furlong specialist cost Bodemeister the race and had no business running ten furlongs on the first Saturday in May. Connections are thinking Preakness if Bodemeister skips the second leg and he will finish up the track again if he ends up in that spot. A more logical placement would be the G2 Woody Stephens at seven panels on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

18thProspective: G2 Tampa Bay Derby hero is a few cuts below the best.

19thTake Charge Indy: Came out of the Derby with an ankle chip and is scheduled to go under the knife this week. He could return in the fall if everything goes well.

20thDaddy Long Legs: Not surprising the he did not take to conventional dirt since he finished 12th of 13 in last year’s BC Juvenile at Churchill Downs.

Spiral Stakes 2012 Preview – Wide Open Kentucky Derby Prep

Will the next Animal Kingdom emerge from the shadows at Turfway Park on Saturday? One thing is for sure. The Grade 3 Spiral Stakes is a wide open Derby prep race and the winner will have the necessary graded earnings to make the starting gate in Kentucky Derby 2012.

Kentucky Derby 2012 logo

#11 Stealcase (10-1) is worth a stab at double digit odds. He had a troubled start in a 6th of 13 performance behind Hansen in the G3 Gotham Stakes. He ran into multiple next out winners in his first few starts including promising runners Thunder Moccasin, Ender Knievel, and Windsurfer. He looked good in Gulfstream dirt route maiden tally Jan 19 and can compete here if he handles the footing. The Mark Casse runner dons the hood and sports a bullet for this engagement.

#4 Went The Day Well (4-1) is an interesting contender for Graham Motion/Team Valor. He landed the place in both Great Britain turf starts last year and graduated in a flat mile special weight affair at Gulfstream Park March 3.

#12 Handsome Mike (4-1) dueled and held the show in the G3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields on Feb 18. He handles any footing but appears best on turf. Joel Rosario rides.

#1 Russian Greek (10-1) captured two synthetic route stakes events at Golden Gate Fields and was last seen splitting a 10-horse field in the aforementioned El Camino Real Derby. The Jerry Hollendorfer trainee dons the hood and attracts Nakatani.

#3 Heavy Breathing (3-1) easily captured both Gulfstream starts for Todd Pletcher. He is an obvious threat if he handles synthetic ground but probably won’t offer much value.

Pletcher also has #5 Holiday Promise (12-1). He donned the hood and landed the place when last seen at Laurel Park Feb 20.

#7 Ill Conceived (8-1) just missed in the Battaglia, the local prep for this. He will not get away with an easy lead this time and might find nine panels a bit much.

#9 Tizanexpense (15-1) failed to fire from post 11 in the G2 Risen Star last time. He was making steady progress before that and is not without a chance in a tough handicapping puzzle. Michael Maker conditions the son of Tiznow.

Maker also saddles #10 Mr. Prankster (12-1) and leading Fair Grounds jockey Rosie Napravnik is in to ride. He flopped in the Battaglia but won back-to-back local stakes races before that.

#8 Coach Royal (15-1) dons the hood and goes turf/synthetic. The is ambitious spot for the well-bred maiden.

#6 All Squared Away (30-1) will likely attend the pace for sharp SoCal trainer Peter Miller. He faded in the El Camino Real and will probably do the same today.

#2 Red Jack (30-1) has dropped all four starts this year for Wayne Lukas. He graduated in a turf route and failed to fire in lone all-weather route last year.

The Plays: $20 to win/place #11 Stealcase

Grading the Kentucky Derby 2012 Preps: Risen Star Stakes

The final major local prep for the Louisiana Derby was contested at Fair Grounds on Saturday and Kentucky Derby 2012 hopeful El Padrino nipped Mark Valeski a thrilling renewal of the G2 Risen Star Stakes.

G2 Risen Star Stakes (2-25-12): El Padrino (99 BSF)

El Padrino horse

El Padrino wins thrilling renewal of Risen Star - photo by Eclipse Sportswire

It was not easy by any means but overwhelming favorite El Padrino notched his first stakes win and garnered a much needed $180,000 in Derby graded earnings on Feb 25.

The Pletcher trainee settled into a nice stalking rhythm on the outside under Castellano with Rosie Napravnik and Mark Valeski intently tracking longshot Hero of Order.

Mark Valeski poked his head in front but was quickly joined by El Padrino and the two leaders matched strides and brushed in the lane with The Godfather getting his nose down on the line.

El Padrino was not flashy or brilliant in New Orleans but he proved he could win a dogfight and walked away win the victory. The versatile sort handles any footing and has fired in all five lifetime starts at Saratoga, Belmont, Aqueduct, Gulfstream, and Fair Grounds. He possesses all of the tools to win on the first Saturday in May and will have one more race before the big dance under the Twin Spires.

Mark Valeski had the most upside in the Risen Star but did not offer much value because he was coupled with Lecomte hero Mr. Bowling. The Larry Jones trainee did everything but win and the top two were well clear of the rest. He could continue to progress and looms a major player in the Louisiana Derby on April 1. El Padrino could end up in that spot as well.

Z Dager landed the show and was the only Lecomte runner to do anything. Mr. Bowling ended up last.

Optimizer ended up 9th for Wayne Lukas and needs to return to synthetic or turf.

Risen Star Stakes Grade: B-