2023 Risen Star Stakes Betting Odds and Contenders Preview
The Kentucky Derby trail kicks into high gear on Saturday, February 18, with the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2)! A 1 1/8-mile dirt race for three-year-olds, it is the first of the 50-20-15-10-5 point Kentucky Derby preps, one that historically punches its winner’s ticket to the Kentucky Derby.
The race drew a full field of fourteen, meaning it will be a fascinating betting affair! From main-track graded-stakes winners like Curly Jack and Two Phil’s, to surface-switchers like Private Creed, to up-and-comers like Victory Formation, it presents a great challenge for handicappers, and whoever is right will be paid handsomely.
The Risen Star has produced some of the classiest horses of recent years. 2022 champion three-year-old Epicenter won the race, as did Mandaloun, who was placed first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Preakness winner War of Will (2019) won this race, as did eventual Horse of the Year Gun Runner (2016). Whoever wins the race this year will likely find the fast track to stardom!
Keep reading to find out who can add their name to this illustrious list!
Risen Star Stakes 2023 Information
Race Date: Saturday, February 18, 2023
Track: Fair Grounds Race Course
Post Time: 6:14 p.m. Central Standard Time
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
Where to Bet: TVG.com and FanDuel Racing
Risen Star Stakes Odds
This is the field for the 2023 Risen Star Stakes in post position order, including trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds for each horse.
|1||Quiet as Midnight||Benard Chatters||Emanuel Nieves||50-1|
|2||Single Ruler||Keith Desormeaux||Jose Riquelme||30-1|
|3||Shaq Diesel||Renaldo Richards||Adam Beschizza||30-1|
|4||Determinedly||Mark Casse||Reylu Gutierrez||8-1|
|5||Harlocap||Steve Asmussen||John Velazquez||8-1|
|6||Angel of Empire||Brad Cox||Luis Saez||6-1|
|7||Sun Thunder||Ken McPeek||Brian Hernandez, Jr.||15-1|
|8||Tapit's Conquest||Brad Cox||Florent Geroux||6-1|
|9||Curly Jack||Tom Amoss||Edgar Morales||8-1|
|10||Two Phil's||Larry Rivelli||Jareth Loveberry||8-1|
|11||Silver Heist||Steve Asmussen||Corey Lanerie||12-1|
|12||Crupi||Todd Pletcher||James Graham||15-1|
|13||Victory Formation||Brad Cox||Flavien Prat||3-1|
|14||Private Creed||Steve Asmussen||Tyler Gaffalione||12-1|
Risen Star Stakes Prep Results
Six of the 14 runners in the Risen Star come out of stakes races. Two come out of the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn: Victory Formation took that race wire-to-wire, while Angel of Empire closed to finish three lengths second. Sun Thunder also last raced at Oaklawn; he was fourth in the Southwest (G3).
Two Phil’s is the only one coming straight out of the Lecomte (G3), the traditional prep for this race; he finished a good second behind Instant Coffee, who lies in wait for a later race. Curly Jack last raced in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last November, where he was likewise second to Instant Coffee.
Private Creed comes out of a turf race, the only one coming from a turf stakes last out. He was most recently beaten only a head in the Texas Turf Mile, over soft grass at Sam Houston.
Five others come out of allowance-type races: four from traditional allowances and one from a starter allowance. Determinedly wired an allowance on the Lecomte undercard at Fair Grounds and won by a neck over Tapit’s Conquest; Silver Heist, another three-quarters of a length back, also comes back in the Risen Star. Quiet as Midnight last ran second in an N2L allowance sprint over a sloppy Delta Downs track, while Shaq Diesel won a $32,000 starter-optional claiming race by a neck at Tampa Bay Downs.
The other three runners come out of maiden races. Harlocap wired a maiden special weight at Santa Anita on January 22, going a mile and a sixteenth, while Single Ruler comes out of a 2 3/4-length maiden win on the Lecomte undercard on January 21. Crupi, the lone maiden in the field, finished second, beaten a head in a dirt mile at Aqueduct on January 21.
Risen Star Stakes Contenders
These are the contenders in the 2023 Risen Star Stakes, organized by post position:
1) Quiet as Midnight: He has been a closer but may get nearer the pace because he stretches out past seven furlongs for the first time. However, not only is this his stakes debut but open company at Fair Grounds is much tougher than the foes he saw at Delta. He needs a quantum leap forward to be competitive in this.
2) Single Ruler: He broke his maiden at two turns, and should do well with the extra half-furlong he gets here. With several speed horses likely, his off-pace style should get a good run. Trainer Keith Desormeaux knows how to light the tote board on fire in big races at Fair Grounds, and he looks to have an intriguing long-shot candidate once again this year.
3) Shaq Diesel: A three-time winner, he has won more than most of his foes. However, that form has come in maiden and starter company, most of it in sprints. His gutsy score in a starter-optional in his only two-turn start is a positive sign, though this is much tougher company, and he will have to find a lot more with the likes of Determinedly and Harlocap to battle with on his outside.
4) Determinedly: He has won two of his last three, though disappointed two back in the Gun Runner when he was third as heavy chalk. He will be part of a hotly contested pace with the likes of Harlocap and Shaq Diesel, and the underside of his pedigree raises some questions about the mile and an eighth. It also raises alarm bells that Luis Saez defects to ride Angel of Empire.
5) Harlocap: He broke his maiden on the front end at Santa Anita last out, going 1 1/16 miles, a positive for the stretch out. It’s also a positive that John Velazquez follows him from the Baffert barn to the Asmussen shedrow. However, like several others here, he will have a tough ask on the front end with several other speed horses in the field.
6) Angel of Empire: He gets a class test in this, but he has run well in all of his two-turn tries. It’s also a positive sign that he lures Luis Saez off of Determinedly, a horse who otherwise has some claims after that allowance win. Brad Cox has clicked well with Saez, and with horses coming off similar freshenings, and he should have a good trip from midpack.
7) Sun Thunder: He woke up in his first two-turn try, though he was well beaten in the Southwest (G3) next out. Perhaps the disappointment last out was a function of the sloppy track, though that’s a question as his maiden victory also came over good dirt, not fast. He will get pace to run at, though he needs a significant step up.
8) Tapit’s Conquest: He impressed in a Churchill Downs maiden win in October, and returned to miss only a neck behind Determinedly in his first start off the bench. This Brad Cox trainee should be able to take a step forward second off the lay, especially with a bit more pace to chase this time, and Cox has been money with trainer Florent Geroux in big races at Fair Grounds.
9) Curly Jack: He was solid in six starts last year, winning twice, including in the Iroquois. He most recently finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club behind Instant Coffee, who won the Lecomte last out but is waiting for a later spot. The question is whether he has trained on to keep up with more-recently-raced foes. A return to his form last year could get a piece, though he needs a step up to be a win contender.
10) Two Phil’s: The only runner coming out of the Lecomte, he ran a hard-trying second behind Instant Coffee in that race. Expect him to track a couple of lengths off the leaders like he did then, and in the Street Sense (G3) last fall at Churchill. With upside to improve second off the lay, and with high-percentage rider Jareth Loveberry back in the irons, expect him to have a shot at a square price.
11) Silver Heist: This lightly-raced Steve Asmussen trainee graduated locally at a sprint trip, and then finished a close third behind Determinedly and Tapit’s Conquest in an allowance next out. He has proven he can pass horses, and his pedigree appeals for the step up to a mile and an eighth. However, he has to handle a challenging post.
12) Crupi: Though he is the only maiden in the field, he is also the only horse who has tried a mile and an eighth before; he finished a credible second behind stablemate Classic Catch. Trainer Todd Pletcher rarely ships maidens to spots like this unless they fit, and with a second-place finish at Aqueduct last out that came back fast, he has upside to improve second off the lay, and he is bred to improve with time and distance.
13) Victory Formation: The morning-line favorite is undefeated in three starts, but he is a speed horse in a field with several other speeds, and he has to deal with an extreme outside post. In short, though he has passed every test so far, and his pedigree does offer some promise for the distance, he hasn’t had a test like this trip will be, and will present an underlay as the likely favorite.
14) Private Creed: One of the better turf sprinters of last year, he showed promise stretching out to a mile and finishing a close second behind two-turn graded-stakes winner Andthewinneris in the Texas Turf Mile last out. However, he now tries dirt for the first time against a deep field of proven dirt horses, and his pedigree raises questions about the extra furlong.
Risen Star Stakes Past Winners Past Performances
Looking at the last ten years of the Risen Star, there have actually been eleven winners, since the race was split off into two divisions in 2020. All of the last eleven winners hit the superfecta in their last race, though only three actually won.
Among winners of the Risen Star in the last ten years, the most important prep race by far has been the Lecomte. Six of the last eleven winners of this race, including four of the last five, have come out of the Lecomte. They don’t have to be winners: only War of Will (2019) won. However, the other four have all been in the superfecta: Epicenter (2022) was second, Mandaloun (2021) and Mr. Monomoy (2020) were third, and Ive Struck a Nerve (2013) was fourth.
Three of the other five winners came from stakes company, though none of those horses won their previous start. Intense Holiday (2014) was third in the Holy Bull (G2), Gun Runner (2016) was fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club, and Girvin (2017) was second in the Keith Gee, an overnight stakes at Fair Grounds three weeks before the Risen Star.
Modernist (2020) is the only recent winner of the Risen Star to come out of maiden company; he had last been seen breaking his maiden at Aqueduct. Bravazo (2018) came out of an allowance victory at Oaklawn.
Risen Star Stakes Undercard
The Risen Star day card is one of the most important cards of the Fair Grounds season. In addition to the Derby prep, the final race on the huge thirteen-race card, the card features five more stakes races. Three are graded: the Rachel Alexandra (G2) offers Road to the Kentucky Oaks points, the Fair Grounds (G3) features older turf horses, and the Mineshaft (G3) brings in classy older dirt horses. The card also features the Colonel Power, a turf sprint for older horses, and the Albert M. Stall Memorial, open to older fillies and mares on the grass.
With big fields and classy horses racing all day long, make plans to watch Fair Grounds Saturday on TVG, and place your bets at FanDuel or TVG.com!
Fair Grounds History
The first races at what was then the Louisiana Race Course were organized by Bernard de Marigny and others in 1839 and 1839. It was reopened as Union Race Course in 1852 but closed after five years because the nearby Metairie Course proved more popular at the time. It was renamed yet again in 1859 as the Creole Race Course, then was first given the name Fair Grounds in 1963. It continued to host racing during the Civil War.
That was not the end of the closing and opening of the course, though. It closed again after the Civil War when Metairie reopened. Still, some members of the Metairie Jockey Club broke away, re-formed the Louisiana Jockey Club, and restarted racing at Fair Grounds in 1872.
Racing was banned in New Orleans in 1908, though it returned in 1915. Though the track was in jeopardy after being sold to developers in 1940, racing-minded investors saved the track from certain destruction in 1941 and ensured horse racing would continue after World War II.
A stable period followed, and in 1981, the turf course was laid, and then the facility sold on in 1990. Following a devastating fire, a new grandstand had to be built in 1994 at a cost of $27 million, a grand reopening taking place on Thanksgiving Day 1997.
Although further damaged by Hurricane Katrina, another Thanksgiving Day reopening occurred in 2006, and since then, the track has run on an even keel and remains popular with traditional racegoers.
Risen Star Stakes FAQ
Q: When is the Risen Star Stakes?
A: The 2023 Risen Star Stakes will be run Saturday, February 18 at Fair Grounds Race Course. It is the thirteenth and final race on the card, with a post time of 6:14 p.m. Central Standard Time.
Q: Where is the Risen Star Stakes?
A: It takes place at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Risen Star Stakes?
A: Four trainers are tied with three wins apiece. Two of them have entrants in this year’s race: Todd Pletcher sends out Crupi, while Steve Asmussen sends out Harlocap, Silver Heist, and Private Creed. Three-time winners Neil Howard and D. Wayne Lukas do not have entrants in this year’s edition of the Risen Star.
Q: Who is the favorite for the 2023 Risen Star Stakes?
A: Victory Formation is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the Risen Star. He is undefeated in three starts, including a win in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn, though he has to handle a tough draw.
Q: Who is the best Risen Star Stakes jockey?
A: Three jockeys have won the Risen Star three times. Shane Romero and Robby Albarado are no longer active, though Florent Geroux returns to the Risen Star this year with Tapit’s Conquest.
Q: Who won the 2022 Risen Star Stakes?
A: Epicenter won the 2022 Risen Star Stakes for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Joel Rosario. Rosario does not have a call in this year’s edition, though Asmussen has three chances with Harlocap, Silver Heist, and Private Creed.