Asmussen has 2 for Risen Star
The exciting Fair Grounds maiden winner Local Hero will make his next start Feb. 25 in the Risen Star Stakes, trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday.
Asmussen will have two runners in the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star, with Untrapped joining Local Hero in what is shaping up as a very solid edition of the local Louisiana Derby prep race.
Local Hero, owned by Bob Edwards’s e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, twice was second in seven-furlong maiden races last fall in Kentucky but broke through in his first two-turn start when he won a Jan. 26 maiden race at Fair Grounds by 7 1/4 lengths. Under Florent Geroux, who is set to ride him again in the Risen Star, Local Hero set a strong pace while going comfortably and was geared down late, still earning an 89 Beyer Speed Figure in a very encouraging performance.
Local Hero, who is by Hard Spun and out of a Saint Liam mare, worked five furlongs Sunday in company with the maiden Heartwood in 1:00.80.
“He’s training very impressive right now,” Asmussen said. “He worked great yesterday and came out of it 100 percent.”
Untrapped, going in company with the older horse Iron Fist, worked five furlongs Monday in 1:01.60. Asmussen said Ricardo Santana is booked to ride Untrapped again in the Risen Star. Untrapped, like Local Hero, made his two-turn debut in his first start at age 3, finishing a troubled second behind Guest Suite in the Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 21.
Guest Suite also is expected back for the Risen Star, as is Lecomte fourth-place finisher Arklow and the talented Girvin, who was second on turf in the Feb. 4 Keith Gee Memorial.
Mo Town to run in Risen Star
Trainer Tony Dutrow on Monday said that Mo Town, winner of the Remsen Stakes in his final start at age 2, will make his first start at age 3 in the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 25.
Mo Town also had been under consideration for the Grade 3, $300,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 4. But Dutrow said the long-range weather forecast for New Orleans on Feb. 25, combined with the way Mo Town has progressed this winter at the Payson Park training facility in Florida, has made him eager to get going sooner rather than later.
“The horse is doing excellent, and the weather looks good for the 25th. The horse is ready to run, so I won’t pass that up,” Dutrow said.
Dutrow said he’d reconsider “if he got the 12 hole, that kind of thing,” but otherwise, he’s committed to go to New Orleans. He said Mo Town will be on a Tex Sutton flight scheduled to go from Florida to New Orleans on Feb. 21.
John Velazquez has the mount, Dutrow said.
The Risen Star, at 1 1/16 miles, is the first race of the spring that offers 50 qualifying points to the winner under the system used by Churchill Downs to determine the field for the May 6 Kentucky Derby.
Tour de Force a big one
Tour de Force was one of six yearlings who sold for more than $1 million each at Keeneland’s yearling auction on Sept. 11, 2014. Watch a video of the horse in the sales ring, and you will see a poised and curious colt who is both gigantic and gorgeous.
Tour de Force’s great heft surely contributed to the fact that he made his career debut only in December, but the colt is a gentle giant, according to David Carroll, the Fair Grounds assistant to trainer Mark Casse, and a dream to ride.
“He’s unbelievable to sit on in the morning,” Carroll said. “He’s just so smooth and does everything right.”
Tour de Force finished second sprinting in the mud in his debut, then won a one-mile maiden grass race despite the fact that his connections feel certain that the colt, by Tiznow and out of Dream Supreme, prefers dirt. Tour de Force has since worked sharply, and his progress will be on full view in the featured eighth race Thursday at Fair Grounds, a first-level main-track allowance carded for one mile and 70 yards. Tour de Force is 5-2 on the morning line but figures to be bet lower.
Easily the best of the other $1 million-plus yearlings from that 2014 session at Keeneland is Mohaymen, who cost $2.2 million and was among the leading early-season 3-yearolds of 2016. The other four million-dollar yearlings have done much less.
Air Vice Marshal, a $2.2 million yearling trained by Aidan O’Brien, was held in high regard at 2, but he won only one of five races and last started in May. Taqueeth, who cost $1.1 million, made his U.S. debut earlier this month and was second in a first-level allowance at Gulfstream. Gioia Stella, a $1.5 million buy, has won one of five starts and ended her 2016 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Winter Memories Stakes, while Adios Reality, a $1.2 million purchase, remains a four-race maiden.
Tour de Force has a long way to go to justify his cost, but he has the looks and the temperament, and the next step comes Thursday.
Steve Asmussen’s Local Hero (above) will join stablemate Untrapped in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 25.