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Feb 18, 2011

Stakes winners highlight Risen Star Stakes

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Saturday's $300,000 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans will be a gathering of stakes winning three- year-olds and future black-type horses. Of the 10 colts entered in the 1 1/16- mile test, three have already won stakes with four others picking up money from added money events.

Speed horse Decisive Moment is the only entrant with a stakes win this year. Owned by Just for Fun Stable, the colt led the entire way in winning last month's $250,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs. Made the 9-2 third choice in the program, Decisive Moment finished his 2010 season at Delta Downs with a second-place result in the Delta Downs Jackpot.

"It's amazing how much this horse has improved between his two-year-old and three-year-old seasons," the colt's jockey Kerwin Clark said.

Juan Arias trains Decisive Moment who will start from post three with a chance to add $180,000 in graded stakes earnings.

Rogue Romance has been installed as the 3-1 morning-line favorite for his first start in 2011. The colt, trained by Ken McPeek, will break from the inside post with regular rider Julien Leparoux in the saddle.

"We're just as confident in this horse as we were with Repent," said McPeek Monday referring to his 2002 Risen Star and Louisiana Derby winner.

Owned by Catesby Clay, Rogue Romance won the Bourbon Stakes last October at Keeneland before finishing third to Uncle Mo in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Also slated to make his initial start of the year in the Risen Star is stakes winner Santiva. The colt is owned by Tom Walters and is under the care of Eddie Kenneally, his third trainer over four starts. Santiva broke his maiden by winning the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November at Churchill Downs.

"He ran awesome, really," Kenneally said after the half-length win. "They came to him at the eighth pole and looked like they might even go by him. They put him in a little tight, and that's when he really fought back and he regained momentum and was drawing away from them at the wire."

Prior to Kenneally getting Santiva, the Kentucky-bred was trained originally by Ken McPeek and then was moved to the barn of Todd Pletcher where he ran second in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland behind J. B.'s Thunder.

Kenneally believes that the colt, winner of $195,254, is a serious Kentucky Derby contender.

"He's got the pedigree. There's all the stamina in the world in his pedigree. He's got the profile for the race here in May," Kenneally stated last November at Churchill Downs.

Santiva will be ridden by Mike Smith from post seven and is 6-1 in the morning-line.

Making his second start this year at the Fair Grounds will be Pants On Fire. The colt was second to Wilkinson in the Lecomte Stakes in January and again will be ridden by Joe Bravo from post four. Owned by George and Lori Hall, the three-year-old was third in last month's Count Fleet at Aqueduct. Pants On Fire, trained by Kelly Breen, is also listed at 6-1 in the program.

Coming out of the Lecomte is beaten even-money favorite Justin Phillip. Prior to his fifth-place finish last month, Justin Phillip had been in the money in all of his first five starts for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Shaun Bridgmohan again will be aboard Justin Phillip in the Risen Star. The pair, 8-1 in the morning-line, will start from post nine.

Trainer Bret Calhoun has Action Ready in the stakes, coming out of a third in the Lecomte. The winner of two of five starts is 12-1 in the program and will break from post eight with Rosie Napravnik riding.

Making his stakes debut will be trainer Neil Howard's Machen. Owned by Courtlandt Farm, the colt has won both career starts for $46,800. Jamie Theriot has the riding assignment on the 6-1 selection and will start from post six.

The 4-1 second choice is stakes-placed Mucho Macho Man. The colt was second last year in both the Remsen and Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct and is coming off a fourth in last month's Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park as the 2-1 favorite.

"We've got to figure out exactly where we fit in the picture with all the rest of this year's three-year-olds," said Mucho Macho Man's trainer Kathy Ritvo on Sunday. "This race Saturday should answer that question."

The colt will be ridden by Eibar Coa from post five.

Trainer Tim Ice, who trained 2009 three-year-old champ Summer Bird, has 50-1 longshot Liondrive entered. Chantel Sutherland has the mount and will break from post two.

Sorgho and jockey Eddie Martin Jr. complete the field. The 30-1 longshot has drawn the outside post.

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