02/16/2011 6:02PM

Decisive Moment to keep run-and-gun style for Risen Star


NEW ORLEANS – Decisive Moment took the slow track from Miami to New Orleans, but his trainer, Juan Arias, plans a speedier journey for the horse and jockey Kerwin Clark in the Risen Star Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

“He’s going to go out there and gun him, and if they want to go that way with us, welcome,” said Arias.

That’s the front-running style Decisive Moment employed winning the $250,000 Jean Laffitte Stakes on Jan. 14 at Delta, and Arias sees no reason to alter tactics in the Risen Star.

“He’s been doing so good that way, so it’s hard to try something new,” said Arias. “There will be a day when he doesn’t break so good, and then it will be up to the rider to go to plan B.”

Decisive Moment is one of five Florida-based horses entered to contest the Risen Star, a Grade 2, $350,000 race that drew a field of 10. The other four were booked to fly on Wednesday, but Arias and owner Ruben Sierra, who races as Just for Fun Stable, sent Decisive Moment here by van. He arrived Monday night, walked the shed row Tuesday, and was out for a mild gallop under Arias, a former jockey, on Wednesday morning. Decisive Moment, a long-legged, near-black son of the Florida stallion With Distinction, trained comfortably and seemed to have settled in to his new surroundings.

“He took everything like a pro today,” Arias said.

The surroundings are new for Arias, too, as would be victory in a graded stakes race. Arias, 45 and a native of Panama, has compiled a record of 0-2-1 from 10 graded stakes starters. Decisive Moment is one of the two best horses he has trained in a career dating to 2003. The other was Renda, who finished 10th in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Arias never has started a horse at Fair Grounds, but this is his third trip to Louisiana with Decisive Moment, who finished second in the Delta Jackpot before winning the Jean Lafitte. The horse has never won beyond one mile, has tended to fade late in his races, and is moving from the extremely short stretch at Delta to the unusually long stretch at Fair Grounds. Arias, however, sees a horse who, while speedy, is learning how to race.

“He’ll stretch out more now that he’s getting more experienced,” said Arias. “He was hard to rate. He’s learning to relax next to the company and pull away now.”

And Decisive Moment figures to have company on Saturday after breaking from post position 3. Pants on Fire, drawn just to his outside, set the pace in the Lecomte Stakes and has been the first-call leader his last four starts. Drawn one stall farther out is Mucho Macho Man, who raced on the lead Jan. 30 in the one-turn-mile Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. Decisive Moment already has $200,000 in graded-stakes earnings thanks to his Delta Jackpot performance, and that alone may be enough to qualify for the Kentucky Derby’s 20-horse field.

“You’ve got a foot in the door having the graded earnings,” Arias said, “but you still have to go step by step.””