Guest Suite leads the way as the top five return from the January 21 Lecomte (G3) and Mo Town is one of three stakes winners making their first appearance in a Kentucky Derby qualifier this year in Saturday’s $400,000 Risen Star (G3) at Fair Grounds.
A field of 14 has been assembled for the 1 1/16-mile event and the Risen Star marks the first of 16 races in “Championship Season” portion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, with point values increasing to 50-20-10-5 on Saturday for the top four respective finishers.
Guest Suite registered his first stakes triumph in the Lecomte, the first of three Kentucky Derby qualifiers at the New Orleans along with the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) on April 1. Trained by Neil Howard, Guest Suite rallied from midpack to win going away by 1 ¼ lengths, recording his second consecutive victory after concluding 2016 with a convincing allowance tally at Churchill Downs.
The Quality Road gelding shows a recent 5-furlong bullet workout in preparation and Guest Suite will break from post 6 with regular rider Robby Albarado.
Untrapped, Takeoff, Arklow and Shareholder Value, the respective 2-3-4-5 finishers in the Lecomte, are also back for the Risen Star. Untrapped is one of two runners for Steve Asmussen, who will also send out Local Hero. A $500,000 son of Hard Spun, Local Hero exits a 7 ¼-length maiden score on the Lecomte undercard.
Mo Town will make his first appearance since easily capturing the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct in late November, registering a field-best 101 BRIS Speed rating for the 2 ½-length win. By Uncle Mo, who sired Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist in his first crop, Mo Town has invaded from his Florida winter base at Payson Park. John Velazquez will be in to ride the Tony Dutrow-trained colt.
Cool Arrow, who was last seen posting a 3 ½-length victory in the December 11 Springboard Mile at Remington Park, will make his graded bow for Joe Sharp after scratching from Monday’s Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn Park. Gabriel Saez retains the mount on the Into Mischief colt. So Conflated is scheduled to make his first start against graded foes after capturing the January 21 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields, but trainer Doug O’Neill is considering scratching in favor of the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct a week later due to the far outside post.
Completing the field are Girvin, Horse Fly, It’s Your Nickel, Sorry Erik and U S Officer.