The top four finishers from the GIII Lecomte S. Jan. 16 take their next steps down the GI Kentucky Derby trail Saturday in the GII Risen Star S. at Fair Grounds. A $525,000 KEESEP buy, Lecomte winner Midnight Bourbon (Tiznow) was second in the GIII Iroquois S. at Churchill in September and was third in Belmont's GI Champagne S. in October. The bay took the field wire-to-wire in the Lecomte, besting Proxy (Tapit) by a length.
“I think the distance is right in his wheelhouse and we're excited about running him in this series because of the distance of these preps,” said trainer Steve Asmussen. “He's an efficient mover with a high cruising speed and horses like that can be very effective at Fair Grounds. We were very pleased with how he started off the year and this is the next step.”
A second-out graduate here in November, Proxy captured a 1 1/16-mile allowance in NOLA Dec. 19 prior to the Lecomte. Juddmonte homebred Mandaloun (Into Mischief) opened his account with a pair of wins, debuting at Keeneland in October and then at Churchill Nov. 28. Prepping for this with a best-of-35 five panels here Feb. 6, the bay adds blinkers for this event. Lecomte fourth-place finisher Santa Cruiser (Dialed In) broke his maiden at third asking at Churchill Nov. 15 before taking the leap to graded company.
'TDN Rising Star' Carillo (Union Rags) looks to make yet another headline if he pulls off the upset here. The bay was quite impressive when capturing his career bow at Aqueduct Jan. 8 for the estate of his late breeder Paul Pompa and trainer Chad Brown. The bay topped the Keeneland January sale days later, selling to bloodstock agent Lauren Carlisle for $875,000, and was sent to Tom Amoss. He makes his first start for Amoss and new owners Greg Tramontin, Joel Politi, Brittlyn Stable and Asaro Enterprises in the Risen Star.
“He trains like he ran and shows a great deal of stamina in the mornings and in his workouts,” Amoss said. “He shows a very good turn of foot at the end. The horse is pretty straightforward since I've gotten him. He needs to show he can make the transition from one to two turns but he's not the only horse like that at this time of year. All things point to that being something he's going to successfully do but he hasn't done it at this point.”