03/10/2009 2:24PM

Risen Star, etc.

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With a contentious field of ten set to line up for the Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds on Saturday afternoon, it seems appropriate to take a look back at the winner of the 1988 running.  Risen Star took the New Orleans fork of the Triple Crown trail en route to earning year-end honors as champion three-year-old colt. 

Let's take a look back at Risen Star's season through the words of the late, great Joe Hirsch in his "1988 Racing in Review" column from the 1989 American Racing Manual.

"...The Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 16 told more of a story about the 3-year-old division than many read into it at the time. 
Forty Niner, 2-year-old champion and future book favorite for the Kentucky Derby, was the 2-5 favorite in the $100,000 Lexington, a Grade II feature at a mile and a sixteenth.  A close second in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream, Forty Niner, after training smartly for Hall of Famer Woody Stephens, opened his spring campaign with a rousing five-length tally in Keeneland's Lafayette Stakes.  With a race over the track, he was seen as a sure thing in the Lexington.
But at the winning post it was Risen Star by a head over Forty Niner.  The winner, a $300,000 purchase at the Calder sales, trailed his four rivals much of the way, then exploded through the stretch under the veteran Jacinto Vasquez and wore down Forty Niner in the closing stride.  The big brown colt by Secretariat out of Ribbon by His Majesty carried the colors of Louie Roussel 3rd, chief operation officer of the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, and his partner, New Orleans auto dealer Ronnie Lamarque."

"Risen Star had not come to the Lexington without credentials.  He won five of seven starts, and was the authoritative star of the Louisiana Derby.  But most of his victories had come at his home base, the Fair Grounds, and there was some question about his quality.  Even after the Lexington, excuses were being made for Forty Niner, who was conceding three pounds to the winner.
For the 114th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 7, the field of 17 had co-favorites:  Eugene V. Klein's filly, Winning Colors, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, and Locust Hill Farm's Private Terms, winner of the Gotham Mile and Wood Memorial.  Forty Niner, owned by Claiborne Farm, was considered much the stronger half of an entry trained by Stephens, together with Jim Ryan and Bob Kirkham's Cefis.  Those two went off at nearly 5-1, with Risen Star third choice at $5.50-1..."

"...The Midwest was represented by Risen Star and the Arkansas Derby winner, Mrs. James A. Winn's Proper Reality, a homebred colt by In Reality..."

"...Winning Colors passed the quarter pole three lengths in front of Proper Reality, going the mile in 1:36.  Seeking the Gold and Private Terms were third and fourth at this juncture, followed by Forty Niner and the Canadian colt, Regal Classic.  Risen Star, outrun early while racing wide, was coming on with long strides but lost considerable ground into the stretch.
In the run through the final furlong, Forty Niner closed resolutely.  Having saved his colt, Day drove him at the filly and made up a lot of ground.  Winning Colors was three and a half lengths in front at the eighth pole and won by only a neck, but it was Risen Star who closed fastest of all on the outside to be third, edging Proper Reality, with Regal Classic and Brian's Time close behind..."

"...Forty Niner's near-miss in the Derby was not too disappointing to his interests who where chiefly interested in demonstrating that the American classic distance of a mile and a quarter was not beyond his scope.  Risen Star's people, however, reflected privately on the circumstances of the race and the strong performance turned in by their big colt. 
After Vasquez rode Risen Star to victory in the Lexington, Roussel expressed some reservation about the ride.  Roussel proposed a "tryout" plan with regard to the colt's works but Vazquez, fearing he was being eased out of the picture, accepted the mount on the Blue Grass winner, Granacus.  Eddie Delahoussaye, Roussel's first choice, became the rider of Risen Star."

"Both Vasquez (Foolish Pleasure and Genuine Risk) and Delahoussaye (Gato del Sol and Sunny's Halo) were experienced and successful at Churchill Downs but at that point Vasquez knew Risen Star and Delahoussaye did not.  Risen Star was not the easiest horse to ride and it is conceivable that Vasquez might have been more effective with the colt's late charge in the Derby..."

"...Preakness Week was distinguished for the indecision by trainer and co-owner Roussel on the status of Risen Star.  Roussel was not eager to race the long-striding colt on an off track and, because of midweek rains, delayed his decision until the afternoon of the Preakness.  When the sun finally appeared and times for the first couple of races were respectable, Roussel gave the nod, to the relief of Lamarque, who always had great confidence in Risen Star.
True to his game plan, Stephens had Day cooking out of the gate with Forty Niner, who took the lead over Winning Colors.  Stevens, aboard the filly, seemed content to sit just off the pace while Delahoussaye, under orders to keep Risen Star closer than he was in the Derby, placed the big colt just off the leaders..."

"...Risen Star, racing smoothly from off the pace, moved to the lead at the head of the stretch as Winning Colors and Forty Niner went wide.  He was two lengths in front at the eighth pole and was roused to hold Brian's Time safe in the drive, scoring by a length and a quarter, and going the mile and three-sixteenths in 1:56 1/5 on a "good" track..."

"...Risen Star's strong race at Pimlico confirmed his backers' high opinion of him and their analysis of his Derby performance.  The victory also prompted a hectic scene in the winner's circle where Lamarque, interviewed by ABC's Jim McKay, sang a parody of "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans" that he had written that week.
The natural winnowing process of the Triple Crown competition cut the field for the 120th Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on June 11 to six.  Interestingly, Risen Star and Brian's Time were co-favorites at 21-10.  Winning Colors was 11-5, followed by Granacus, the Blue Grass winner, seen as an authentic stayer.
One of the reasons Risen Star was not a stronger favorite took place two weeks prior to the Belmont.  A strong galloper throughout his career, he came out of the Preakness in particularly good order and was a chore at work each morning for his exercise rider and assistant trainer, 61-year-old Jimmy Nichols, a former jockey and a steward at the Fair Grounds."

"On May 28, Risen Star was pulling on the reins at Belmont when Nichols' right shoulder slipped from its socket, as it had occasionally in the past.  This enabled Risen Star to run off for a half a mile before he was brought under control, and the next morning, a Sunday, there was some filling on the inside of the ankle in the right foreleg.  Roussel treated the ankle with DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) and three days later Risen Star resumed morning gallops. 
The swelling returned two days later, however, and Roussel called for help from Dr. Murray Tiegland of Miami and Dr. Ken Reed of New Orleans.  He also received some input from Dr. William O. Reed of New York and Dr. Mike Hauser, who took X-rays and performed an ultra-sound examination.  Houser found a lesion on the suspensory ligament of the right foreleg on June 4.
With the approval of the veterinarians, Risen Star resumed galloping June 6 and had a good week at Belmont Park.  Roussel, indecisive about the colt's status for the Belmont, seemed cautiously pleased and decided to breeze him Friday morning, the day before the Belmont.  With the 130-pound Nichols in the saddle wearing a brace for his shoulder, and with Risen Star equipped with a ring bit to give the rider extra control, Risen Star stepped three furlongs in 33 2/5, pulling up in :47 for the half-mile and six furlongs in 1:11 2/5.
Roussel commented that the move was too fast but Nicholas said he would have had to "swing" Risen Star in order to go any slower.  Historically, this was one of the fastest works for a classic runner in recent years.  But despite the colt's sharpness, Roussel, as at the Preakness, agonized about his Belmont status on the day of the race and didn't make a final decision to start until early afternoon."

"The 56,558 in attendance at Belmont Park saw Winning Colors sprint out of the gate and open a four-length lead after a half-mile in :47 1/5.  With things going her way and unchallenged on the lead, she gave her backers considerable confidence but it was shortlived.  Risen Star, second from the outset, accelerated with breath-taking verve on the backstretch and was alongside Winning Colors after five and a half furlongs.  Entering the far turn, after a mile in 1:36 2/5, Risen Star was in front. 
He kept pouring it on, with long, graceful strides, and at the quarter-pole led by six lengths, going the mile and a quarter in 2:01 3/5.  The applause started to build when Risen Star led by 10 lengths at the furlong pole and, as he passed the winning post 14 3/4 lengths ahead of the 18-1 outsider, Kingpost, he received the crowd's ovations.  His mile and a half in 2:26 2/5 was the second-fastest Belmont.  The record of 2:24 was set in 1973 by Secretariat, sire of Risen Star.  The wheel of fortune had made a full turn.
On the Monday following the Belmont, Dr. Manuel Gilman of The Jockey Club dropped by the barn to measure Risen Star.  He stood a quarter-inch under 17 hands, was 75 inches in girth and his weight was estimated at 1,100 pounds.  Secretariat, also measured at 3 by Dr. Gilman, stood 16.2 hands, had a girth of 75 3/4 inches, and weighed an estimated 1,200 pounds. 
Syndicated for almost $14,000,000 in late June, Risen Star continued in light training at Belmont Park for another month.  Then, in late July, when it became apparent that the lesion was not reducing in size and posed a threat to his star's future, Roussel reluctantly concluded that the Cinderella story had come to an end.  Plans for a 4-year-old campaign in Florida under Charlie Whittingham were set aside and Risen Star's retirement to Walmac Farm in Kentucky was announced."

"He was a very good horse who was improving steadily in the spring of 1988.  Every race was better than the previous one and his Belmont was his finest effort.  One could guess that there was room for even more development and improvement and one of the saddest notes of the campaign was that Risen Star was not around for the Breeders' Cup Classic and what might have been an epic struggle with Alysheba..."

"...In Risen Star, Forty Niner, Seeking the Gold, Brian's Time, the ill-fated Cherokee Colony and one or two others, this was a very fine 3-year-old crop..."

 

Here are some videos from Risen Star's campaign (courtesy of youtube):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffVFfrTmv3Q (Louisiana Derby)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrgAX16soj0 (Lexington)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykEb2qZ-aDA (Kentucky Derby)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b66OntWOa2Q&NR=1 (Preakness)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhqFUQtaWkI&feature=related (Belmont)

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what became of jeannie sahadi,s horse prremo,s leg injury on 3/1/09 sunday,s feature 61/2 downhill ?
david

Preemo shattered his knee during the race, and had to be euthanized.  His is listed on the "Deceased" portion of the "Disabled List" on the right hand side of the blog.

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Congrats to Mathieu for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  Remember that you have a mythical $100 with which to wager on the race, and the entrant with the highest money total will receive a "Monthly Enhanced 60-Card Past Performance Plan."  Here are the past performances for tomorrow's HandiGambling 124:

Download HandiGambling 124

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to my SOCAL friends:
i saw a workout posted today for poppa clem, which was 3f in 36 and 2 on the dirt training track. is this actually a dirt track workout? is this a different track than the all-weather? i am a tad confused, and was looking for some clarification. thanks folks
todd saunders

The Santa Anita training track is not a synthetic surface.  It is dirt.

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Back tomorrow to lose another hundred.

Take care,

Dan