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Home / Articles / Jeff's Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes Preview


Jeff's Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes Preview

By: Jeff Hochman     Date: Feb 16, 2022
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Risen Star Stakes (Grade 2) Fair Grounds--- Race 13


Saturday, February 19th, 2022


#1 Pappacap (4/1), trained by Mark Casse & ridden by Tyler Gaffalione


This 3-year old Colt by Gun Runner has finished in-the-money five of six (6-2-2-1) tries, earning $596,000. Earned a career best Equibase speed figure of 96 when finishing 3rd in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds last month. The local works have been off the charts spectacular. Improving speed figures in four straight races. Always nice to see. Trainer Mark Casse wins 15% in the second race after a 2-6 month layoff. I love the positive jockey switch from Bravo to Gaffalione. Has tactical speed where the rail post won't matter much. Win Contender!


#2 Russian Tank (50/1), trained by Gennadi Dorochenko & ridden by Jose Vega


This horse has no chance and could get scratched. Won a maiden special weight race on turf last November. Has been first or second in two of eight career starts (8-1-1-0) with earnings of $39,160. Has never raced at today's distance on a dirt track. Ranks 10/10 in early pace, 10/10 in middle pace, 10/10 in late pace. Declining speed figures in three straight races. Trainer wins 12% sprint to route. Toss!


#3 Trafalgar (10/1), trained by Albert Stall & ridden by Colby Hernandez


Finished fourth by 4 1/2 lengths in the Lecomte Stakes at FG last month. In four career starts, Trafalgar has two wins and one second with earnings of $125,060. Blinkers go on today. Albert Stall wins 50% with first time blinkers. Fast works in the morning. I don't believe this horse has enough speed and class to win this type of race. Toss!


#4 Tawny Port (12/1), trained by Brad Cox & ridden by Florent Geroux


Has done nothing wrong, winning both career starts (synthetic surface) for $75,600. This is a major step up in class for the son of Pioneerof the Nile. Earned a career best 90 Equibase speed figure and would need to improve another 10 points to win this race. The connections suggest it could happen. Trainer Brad Cox wins 29% off 1-2 month layoff and 30% going 1 1/8 mile of the dirt. Asking a lot to handle this talented field in his initial try on dirt. Will be a nice price. Long Shot!


#5 Epicenter (4/1), trained by Steve Asmussen & ridden by Joel Rosario


Has finished first or second in three of four career starts (4-2-1-0) with earnings of $170,639. Finished 2nd by a head in the Grade 2 Lecomte Stakes last month. Two starts at Fair Grounds produced a win and second. Should be on or near the lead with a clean start. Owns the fastest early pace (102.9) speed figure in the field. Owns the second fastest middle pace (91.6). The works have jumped off the page in the morning. Gate to wire? Win Contender!


#6 Pioneer of Medina (10/1), trained by Todd Pletcher & ridden by Luis Saez


Has won two straight and takes a major step up in class today. Has never been out of the money in four career starts (4-2-1-1) with earnings of $65,350. These connections must be respected. This trainer/jockey combo wins 29% together from a massive sample size. Running off lasix is a major concern though. Tough to back with slower speed figures than main rivals. Use Underneath!


#7 Zandon (9/2), trained by Chad Brown & ridden by Jose Ortiz


Chad Brown opted for this spot over Gulfstream's Holy Bull Stakes. Has one win and one second in two starts with career earnings of $99,500. Lost by a nose to Mo Donegal, as the betting favorite in the Grade 2 Remsen. This 3-year old Colt by Upstart has produced identical Equibase speed figures of 93. Mo Donegal came back to finish 3rd in the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 5th. I prefer others. Use Underneath!


#8 Smile Happy (7/2), trained by Keeneth McPeek & ridden by Corey Lanerie


Has two wins from two career starts earning $248,810 so far. His sire is Run Happy. Have you heard of him? Kidding of course. Owns the fastest Equibase speed figure (98) in the field. Owns the fastest late pace speed figure (111.5) and should be rolling late with a clean trip. The two horses Smile Happy defeated in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club stakes (Classic Causeway & White Abarrio) both came back to win a stakes race. The ultimate goal is the Kentucky Derby, so taking a stand against him in this spot seems like a worthwhile risk, as he may not be cranked up to 100% this early. The One to Beat!


#9 Bodock (10/1), trained by Brad Cox & ridden by Marcelino Pedroza Jr.


Two wins from two starts for career earnings of $52,00. The last victory was here at FG on an off track, earning a career-best 87 speed figure. From a class and speed rating, this horse looks to be up against it. There are faster, proven, and more classier horses in this field. Ranks 10/10 in Class and 9/10 in speed rating. Brad Cox wins 34% sprint to route. Never raced beyond 6 furlongs. Toss!


#10 Slow Down Andy (9/2), trained by Doug O'Neill & ridden by Mario Gutierrez


Has never finished out of the money in three career starts (3-2-1-0), with earnings of $249,850. Won the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity, earning a career-best 95 Equibase speed figure back in December. This is another step up in class for the 3-year old son by Nyquist. The level of competition has been sub-par to say the least. Doug O'Neill is a great trainer, but it's hard to ignore his 7% win percentage in all stakes races. The outside post and his sustained running style are of major concern. Toss!


Jeff's Grade 2 Risen Star Selection (6:58 pm ET)


Play #5 Epicenter (4/1) Across-the-Board!


#7 Zadon (9/2) (Place)


#1 Paapacap (4/1) (Show)


#8 Smile Happy (7/2) (Fourth)


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