By Ryan Martin —-
* Brown Considering Risen Star For Highly Regarded 3-Year-Old Mask
• Stidham Coming In Hot For Saturday Stakes
• Believe In Royalty Looking To Carry On Family Legacy In Lecomte
• Gun Runner’s Final Fair Grounds Breeze Set To Take Place Sunday Jan. 14 at 8:30
Chad Brown; Anne Eberhardt Photo
BROWN CONSIDERING GRADE II RISEN STAR FOR HIGHLY REGARDED 3-YEAR-OLD MASK
Following an emphatic 6¼-length victory in Saturday’s Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park, trainer Chad Brown could send promising 3-year-old Mask to the Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots for the Gr. II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 17.
“I’m considering the Risen Star,” Brown said by text message. “We’ll see how he trains, but so far he looks great.”
Owned by Lanes’ End Farm, the son of leading North American sire Tapit was a $685,000 purchase at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale. Mask broke his maiden at Belmont Park on Oct. 20 at first asking by three lengths.
The Risen Star is the second of three local preps on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Derby, which will award the Top 4 finishers points on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
STIDHAM COMING IN HOT FOR SATURDAY STAKES
Trainer Mike Stidham has enjoyed a rewarding Winter Meet at the Fair Grounds so far and such success could very well continue into Saturday’s Road to the Derby Kickoff Day presented by Hotel Monteleone, where he has contenders in four of the six stakes races scheduled for the card.
In the $75,000 Marie G. Krantz Memorial, Stidham will send out regally-bred Sweetbaby (post three, Chris Emigh, 8-1) who is by Candy Ride (Arg.) and out of eight-time graded stakes winning broodmare Rutherienne. Owned by Payson Stud Inc., she enters the mile-and-a-sixteenth event on the Stall-Wilson Turf Course off a five-month layoff and has not seen racing action since an allowance victory over the Arlington Park turf on Aug. 17, which she won in wire-to-wire fashion over Illinois-bred stakes winner One Liz.
“Sweetbaby has kind of taken awhile to develop,” Stidham said. “She’s a three other than now so we feel that maybe she’s in a little bit tough in this spot, but it’s time to give her a chance to try to give her a little bit of black type. She’s got a huge pedigree so were hoping to add a little bit of black type to it and see what we can get done.”
Stidham will be represented by two entrants in the $125,000 Silverbulletday Stakes with Godolphin LLC’s Stellar Moon (post five, Robby Albarado, 15-1) and Pin Oak Stud’s Missive (post nine, Joe Bravo, 15-1), however the former of the two will scratch in favor of an a-other-than allowance event over the Fair Grounds main track on Thursday, Jan. 19.
A daughter of Alternation, Missive enters the Silverbulletday off of a runner-up effort behind fellow entrant America’s Tale over a sloppy main track on Dec. 17. In her previous start, she broke her maiden at second asking on a fast Fair Grounds main track by a half-length.
“(She won) second time out and then caught a sloppy track and ran second but the winner won pretty easily so we’re hoping to rebound off of that,” Stidham said. “She is another one that’s out of a really good mare, (four-time graded stakes winner) Bedanken. We’re hoping for some black type on her.”
In Saturday’s featured event, the Grade III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes, undefeated Stidham trainee Zeke will take a shot at the Kentucky Derby trail after a pair of two-turn victories. Owned by Bossci Stable, the well-rounded son of Gio Ponti broke his maiden first time out at Laurel Park on Oct. 14 and won allowance race over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course on Dec. 17.
“He’s been very versatile,” Stidham said. “Zeke has won on turf and dirt, the Gio Ponti (offspring) have been showing up on the dirt even though you would think that they’re going to be grass. He’s won both of his starts so we’re going to give him a shot and see how he matches up against some nice horses.”
In the last of the six stakes races scheduled for Saturday’s action packed racing program, Cedartown will attempt to add a second stakes triumph to his resume for Stidham in the $75,000 Louisiana Stakes. Owned by Godolphin LLC, the son of Candy Ride (Arg.) and half-brother to three-time graded stakes winner Danzing Candy has never finished worse than second in six career starts and won the Zia Park Derby on Nov. 22 last time out.
“The Zia Park race was a huge step up for him numbers wise and he’s been working lights out since then,” Stidham. His (five-furlong bullet in :59.40) work (Saturday) was a huge work and we feel good about him going into it. He’s a nice horse and another one that’s really well bred and we’re hoping he can step up against the older horses and run well.”
Stidham is looking forward to showcasing his talented stakes bunch for Saturday’s program.
“We’ve got a big stable and these are the days that we hope to be able to shine,” Stidham said. “We have nice horses and they deserve to run in these kinds of spots and hopefully we’re good enough.”
Stidham went on to speak of Supreme Aura, recent winner of a six-furlong allowance event on Jan. 5, and stated that he is looking at running the 3-year-old son of Candy Ride (Arg.) in the Gr. II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 17.
Larry Jones; Anne Eberhardt Photo
BELIEVE IN ROYALTY LOOKS TO CARRY ON FAMILY LEGACY IN LECOMTE
When your father is the leading North American sire and your mother is a Kentucky Oaks winner, there is naturally a lot to live up to. Such is the case for Brereton Jones’ Believe In Royalty who will attempt to begin living up to his top quality pedigree when he breaks from the five hole in Saturday’s Gr. III $200,000 Lecomte Stakes.
Believe In Royalty is by the leading North American sire Tapit and is the first offspring out of 2012 Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can also owned by Jones and was retired to the broodmare division of the owner’s Airdrie Stud following her career. Given Believe You Can’s resume and solid pedigree, it only made sense to breed to such a prestigious sire.
Bret Jones, the son of Brereton who assists the team at Airdrie Stud in bloodstock services, recalls the moment that Believe In Royalty was foaled.
“Honestly it was a very anxious moment waiting for Believe You Can to foal,” the younger Jones said. “But he was a real nice foal from the beginning and had us very excited when he hit the ground. We took him to the (2016 Keeneland) September Sale and we were confident that with his pedigree and confirmation that he would bring a lot of attention in the ring.”
Believe In Royalty brought more than just attention in the sales ring. He brought $900,000 from co-owners William L. Mack and Robert C. Baker who also owned Proud Citizen, the sire of Believe You Can. However, Jones still wanted to keep a piece of the horse.
“William Mack and Bob Baker were partners with us on Proud Citizen and we have a great relationship with those two,” Jones said. “So we told them, ‘Listen if you end up buying him, we would like to stay in on the horse with you,’. It looks like we’ve got a real nice horse and we’re all looking forward to Saturday.”
Trainer Larry Jones also trained Believe You Can and shares the same excitement in being able to keep and train her first baby.
“We’ve seen him ever since he was a baby,” Jones said. “With him being her baby I would see him every time I go by Airdrie. I keep my mares at Airdrie, too so I always made it a point to take a look at him when I would go by Airdrie. We’ve been kind of attached to him the whole time and to get the opportunity to keep him. Whenever Brereton sold him and he wound up retaining part of him and bought back into him with those owners, so it was really good to get to have him.”
Believe In Royalty will be ridden by Robby Albarado in the Lecomte and will look for his first stakes victory. He broke his maiden second time out over a sloppy main track at Laurel Park
before defeating winners over the Maryland oval on Nov. 19. His last outing came in the Remington Springboard Mile, where he was a well-beaten sixth.
GUN RUNNER’S FINAL FAIR GROUNDS BREEZE SET TO TAKE PLACE ON SUNDAY, JAN. 14 AT 8:30 AM
Gr. I Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year finalist Gun Runner will breeze over the Fair Grounds main track for the last time in his career on Sunday, Jan. 14 at 8:30 AM following a renovation break. He is scheduled to make the final start of his brilliant racing career in the Gr. I $16 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 27. The track will be closed to all other horses during this time.