Four weeks after dominating his rivals in the Lecomte (G3), Instilled Regard will be back in New Orleans on Saturday in the hopes of doing it again in the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.
The 1 1/16-mile Risen Star will be the first Championship prep in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, thus 50 qualifying points toward Kentucky Derby (G1) eligibility will be awarded to the winner. Given the history, a victory should ensure the winner a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate. Points of 20-10-5 will be awarded to the second- through fourth-place finishers.
Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Instilled Regard rolled to a 3 3/4-length victory in the Lecomte over 6-5 favorite Principe Guilherme. While the latter endured a tougher, wider trip from post 10, Instilled Regard also had to deal with a wide draw (post 9) and did so with aplomb under Javier Castellano, who returns to ride in the Risen Star.
Battle-tested one race earlier when pin-balled by Solomini and McKinize in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1), Instilled Regard franked the form of that December 9 heat, with McKinzie also returning to win in last month’s Sham (G3).
Principe Guilherme will start from the spot Instilled Regard did last time, post 9 in the field of 10. The Steve Asmussen trainee led virtually wire-to-wire in two earlier wins by a combined 18 lengths, but was forced to take back in the Lecomte. At the finish, he edged stablemate Snapper Sinclair by a head for the place.
The latter, a stakes winner last fall on the turf at Kentucky Downs, took a brief lead at the quarter pole in the Lecomte after rating in second, but simply might not have seen out the trip. The colt is a son of City Zip and out of a Yes It’s True mare.
Among those testing stakes waters for the first time in the Risen Star is the Todd Pletcher-trained Noble Indy, who’s won both starts at Gulfstream, including an allowance on January 11 over 1 1/16 miles.
“We were just looking for a logical prep timing wise,” Pletcher said. “He’s been doing really well and came out of last race well. There are essentially options every weekend but we feel like this is a good spot for him. He’s shown a tremendous amount of talent not only in the mornings but in both of his races. He’s a horse with a pedigree that suggests he’ll handle longer distances.”
Another colt undefeated in two starts, Supreme Aura, stretches out for the first time after taking a pair of six-furlong races by a combined 8 1/4 lengths. The son of Candy Ride is trained by Mike Stidham.
Others that could make an impact include the Dallas Stewart-trained Givemeaminit, who belatedly broke his maiden against Louisiana-bred company last time after placing in the Hopeful (G1) and running fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).
Bravazo, runner-up in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), comes off an allowance score at Oaklawn and is one of two in here representing Calumet Farm and trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Keeneland graduate High North was a rough-trip fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) when last seen in November, but the form of that race was not flattered earlier this month in the Holy Bull (G2). Brad Cox said he might cross-enter the son of Midnight Lute in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn on February 19.