As­mussen has 2 for Risen Star

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - News - By Mar­cus Hersh – ad­di­tional re­port­ing by Jay Priv­man Fol­low Mar­cus Hersh on Twit­ter @DRFHersh

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.

LOU HODGES JR./HODGES PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Steve As­mussen’s Lo­cal Hero (above) will join sta­ble­mate Un­trapped in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 25.

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