By Joe Bianca
Deep enough to be split into two divisions with a combined 23 horses, Saturday’s GII Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds is nevertheless short on household names. The exception is Peter Redekop’s Anneau d’Or (Medaglia d’Oro), a close second in the GI TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile who will kick off his 3-year-old campaign as a favorite in the latter division of the annual stepping stone to the GII Louisiana Derby at the New Orleans oval.
Selling for $480,000 as an OBS April 2-year-old, the bay debuted going a mile on the Golden Gate turf Sept. 29 and overcame a wide journey to score an impressive eight-length romp. Confidently spotted at the Breeders’ Cup off that try, he was a head runner-up at 28-1 behind eventual champion Storm the Court (Court Vision) in a parade of longshots across the wire.
Proving that was no fluke and assuring that dirt would be his home for the foreseeable future, Anneau d’Or came up just short again when second by a neck behind Thousand Words (Pioneerof the Nile), one of the early favorites for the GI Kentucky Derby, in the GII Los Alamitos Futurity Dec. 7. Trying to get his pupil to close out races better, trainer Blaine Wright adds blinkers for this engagement and calls upon Joel Rosario to replace regular rider Juan Hernandez.
“In my opinion, we were a head and a neck away from winning an Eclipse Award,” Wright told the Fair Grounds notes team. “We have to find a way to get past horses. Joel Rosario flew up [to Northern California] and worked him last week and got to know him. Hopefully the changes will work out to our advantage.”
Looming as main threats in Anneau d’Or’s division are Stonehedge’s Liam’s Lucky Charm (Khozan) and Allied Racing Stable’s Mailman Money (Goldencents). The former, who went wire to wire in a sharp conquest of the Pasco S. last out Jan. 18 at Tampa, tries two turns again after finishing a distant third to Derby contender Chance It (Currency Swap) in the 1 1/16-mile Florida Sire In Reality S. Sept. 28 at Gulfstream. The latter, campaigned by the same connections as last year’s Louisiana Derby upsetter By My Standards (Goldencents), followed up a 24-1 upset on debut Nov. 30 at Churchill with a good-looking allowance victory in a local off-the-turfer Jan. 12.
In the earlier division, GIII Lecomte S. winner Enforceable (Tapit) was pegged as a narrow 7-2 morning-line favorite. Taking four tries to break his maiden, the gray was third at 19-1 in the GI Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity Oct. 5 at Keeneland and fourth in the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. before rallying from well back into a fast pace to take the Lecomte. The second, third, fifth and sixth finishers re-oppose in this division, with runner-up Silver State (Hard Spun) and third runner Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice) standing the biggest chances.