$400k Risen Star (G2) Division 2

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By Tom Quigley

$400,000 Risen Star (G2) Division 2 at Fair Grounds

Race 13 (Saturday, February 15, 2020: 7:12 p.m./ET: 4:12 p.m./PT)
Mile and an eighth on the main track (three-year-olds)

The second division of the Risen Star (G2) features the three-year-old debut of Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner up #8 ANNEAU D’OR, who adds blinkers and picks up the services of top North American jockey Joel Rosario. Fifty Kentucky Derby (G1) points will be awarded to the winners of both divisions of the Risen Star, so let’s attempt to predict who that talented horse might be in Division 2:

#1 MODERNIST is the only runner that has won going a mile-and-an-eighth. Sent off at low odds last time out, this colt by UNCLE MO easily defeated maiden company at Aqueduct in gate to wire fashion. Sports a steadily improving pattern for Bill Mott, who employs Junior Alvarado to ride.

#2 TRUCULENT hasn’t been seen since a maiden win over this track on November 28. His only career run against graded stakes company resulted in a 25-length loss in the Champagne (G1) in the fall. Others look more appealing.

#3 MR. BIG NEWS was all out to win a maiden race over this track. He finished 15 lengths behind #6 EXCESSION three starts ago, though it’s apparent he has improved significantly since then.

#4 FAME TO FAMOUS tries dirt for the first time after a fourth-place finish in the Pulpit Stakes going one mile on grass at Gulfstream Park. Like #2 TRUCULENT, he makes his first afternoon appearance as a three-year-old, and his connections are asking a lot of this guy to win a race like this. Looking elsewhere.

#5 LIAM’S LUCKY CHARM went coast to coast in the Pasco Stakes sprinting seven furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs on January 18 while adding blinkers. In his only career run around two turns, he set the pace before fading badly. He is likely to set the pace again, but it’s doubtful he’ll be able to stick around in the final quarter-mile against these legit proven routers.

#6 EXCESSION went off at 36/1 in the Lecomte (G3) and never got involved for an in-the-money placing. Although he is trained by top conditioner Steve Asmussen, he’ll need to turn it around for an in-the-money placing in this event.

#7 MAJOR FRED finished third in his career debut (which turned out to be a live race) behind subsequent two-time stakes winner Gold Street. In his second start, he added blinkers and routed over this track, winning easily. He’s a horse that clearly has ability, but the question is simply whether he is good enough to defeat the best signed on here.

#8 ANNEAU D’OR finished second two starts back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) before returning as the runner up behind next out Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner THOUSAND WORDS in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). Blaine Wright-trained colt by MEDAGLIA D’ORO adds blinkers today and will be ridden by top jockey Joel Rosario for the first time. Clearly the one to beat.

#9 LYNN’S MAP broke his maiden at Churchill Downs three starts ago before defeating #6 EXCESSION in an allowance race over a wet track. He shipped to Oaklawn Park for his next start, the Smarty Jones Stakes, and finished fifth behind GOLD STREET over another wet surface. Possibility.

#10 FINNICK THE FIERCE was sent off at odds of 14/1 in the Lecomte (G3) and finished fourth, beaten seven lengths. His effort two back was terrific, running second at astronomical odds of 87/1 in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) while finishing a head in front of next out Holy Bull (G3) winner TIZ THE LAW. A possible use underneath in exotics, if anywhere.

#11 MAILMAN MONEY has been impressive in his two lifetime starts. After breaking his maiden over next out winner DIGITAL sprinting, he returned to route over this track and blitzed the competition, winning the mile-and-70-yard allowance contest by a half-dozen lengths. Bret Calhoun trains and jockey Gabriel Saez hops aboard and they win at a 37% clip together. Has the look of a contender.

#12 NY TRAFFIC drew an undesirable outside post for red-hot Florida trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. In his last start (at Gulfstream Park), he went gate to wire, winning by almost seven lengths. Today, he’ll likely have to deal with pace pressure from #5 LIAM’S LUCKY CHARM if he opts to go to the lead.

1. #8 ANNEAU D’OR - Can improve further with new rider/equipment.
2. #11 MAILMAN MONEY - Hasn’t done anything wrong in two lifetime
3. #12 NY TRAFFIC - Gulfstream win is too good to ignore

LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY - #7 MAJOR FRED - Broke his maiden like a good thing.

I’ll key my top pick in exactas and trifectas over my second pick and longshot value play. Underneath in my trifecta bet, I’ll also use third pick #12 NY TRAFFIC plus #3 MR. BIG NEWS and #9 LYNN’S MAP.

BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$5 Exacta: #8 ANNEAU D’OR over #7 MAJOR FRED #11 MAILMAN MONEY ($10).
$2 Trifecta: #8 ANNEAU D’OR over #3 MR. BIG NEWS and #7 MAJOR FRED and #9 LYNN’S MAP and #11 MAILMAN MONEY and #12 NY TRAFFIC ($40).

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