02/23/2013 7:20PM

Fair Grounds: Keith Desormeaux stands firm; Ive Struck a Nerve pays $272 in Risen Star

Lou Hodges Jr.
Ive Struck a Nerve, foreground, wins the Risen Star by a nose over a resurgent Code West.

NEW ORLEANS – Three-year-old stakes horses capped the 2011 – 2012 Fair Grounds racing season with a burst of insanity when 109-1 shot Hero of Order won the Louisiana Derby. Oxbow restored a measure of order winning the first 3-year-old stakes this meet, the Jan. 19 Lecomte, at a reasonable 9-2. But wackiness returned Saturday when Ive Struck a Nerve rallied from last to edge Code West in the Risen Star Stakes at odds of 135-1.

Before the Risen Star, Ive Struck a Nerve had started eight times – at Del Mar, at Santa Anita, at Delta Downs, and here at Fair Grounds - and had won once, capturing a local maiden sprint Nov. 24. He had finished a fading fourth in the Lecomte last month at odds of 33-1, adding stamina concerns to existing questions of quality. But trainer Keith Desormeaux pondered Ive Struck a Nerve’s pedigree, stared at his conformation, kept thinking that Ive Struck a Nerve deserved one more chance in a two-turn stakes race.

“I just couldn’t accept that he couldn’t get a distance,” Desormeaux said.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

In the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star, Ive Struck a Nerve got 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.52, faster than older-horse Mark Valeski’s winning time two races earlier in the Mineshaft Handicap. Moreover, the 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points Ive Struck a Nerve earned with his win, along with his one point from the Lecomte, might well be enough to give him a chance to get 1 1/4 miles the first Saturday in May.

Ive Struck a Nerve got up to win despite racing last of 12 on the first turn and down the backstretch behind a moderate early tempo. With Oxbow breaking flat-footed, rail-drawn Proud Strike surprisingly led the way, going his opening quarter-mile in 23.92 seconds and the first half in 48.34. It was obvious the pace wasn’t fast from the way the Risen Star field bunched into the far turn, Code West and Oxbow rolling up to overtake Proud Strike, with Mylute and several others poised just behind them.

Two horses lagged at the back of the pack; favored Normandy Invasion, who broke a touch slow and was clipped by Oxbow just after the start, and Ive Struck a Nerve, who saved ground around both turns. James Graham, aboard Ive Struck a Nerve for the first time, began picking off tiring rivals before the three-furlong pole, never having to stray far from the fence until he turned for home, his horse full of run. Ive Struck a Nerve rallied outside the lead group in the stretch, striking the front in the final 50 yards and barely holding off a resurgent Code West, who had fallen back to fourth in mid-stretch.

Palace Malice, who closed from ninth, finished third, a half-length behind Code West and a nose in front of Oxbow, who took the lead at the top of the stretch and couldn’t sustain his run. Normandy Invasion, the 3-2 choice, ran on decently for fifth, losing ground on the far turn while the winner took a shorter route. He was followed by Golden Soul, Mylute – who loomed and faded – Proud Strike, Bethel, Agent, Circle Unbroken, and Hardrock Eleven.

In addition to the 50 Derby qualifying points to Ive Struck a Nerve, Code West earned 20 points, Palace Malice 10 points, and Oxbow 5 points, giving him 16 points.

The winner, who paid $272.40, was bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones. Ive Struck a Nerve is by Yankee Gentleman and out of the Cryptoclearance mare Ranaway. His owner, Matthew Bryan, who races as Big Chief Racing LLC, began sending horses to Desormeaux last year, and has helped the 22-year veteran to a strong Fair Grounds meeting. Ive Struck a Nerve was the 14th Fair Grounds winner for Desormeaux, also providing Desormeaux his first graded stakes win and the longest-odds victory he could recall.

“It was easy to run here from a horsemanship standpoint,” said Desormeaux, the Louisiana born and raised older brother of jockey Kent Desormeaux. “The hard thing is accepting in your mind you’re doing the right thing by the horse. You know you’re going to be 100-1. You know you’ll have to shock the world.”

Desormeaux said the weeks between the Lecomte and the Risen Star included two in-company works intended to encourage Ive Struck a Nerve to relax and finish, something he failed to do in the Lecomte. The result was a shocking win, Desormeaux assuming the role of trainer Gennadi Dorochenko, who saddled Hero of Order to his Louisiana Derby win.

“I’m the Cajun Dorochenko!” Desormeaux shouted, making his way out of the winner’s circle and into a celebratory evening.


Jef Fawell More than 1 year ago
Didn't quite get the trip we wanted out of the RISEN STAR, but I'm not giving up on NORMANDY INVASION just yet!! Chad Brown is becoming a great trainer. He still has a good horse and with any luck, he'll get this horse into the DERBY!!!!
Mitchell McMahon More than 1 year ago
Might have helped him not to have run an extra furlong going side to side along the route
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
The only point that I am trying to make here is that the victory by Ive Struck a Nerve was not without explanation. I overlooked him because of his dismal finishes. However, I did break down the pace for each horse's last race before I focused on Code West. Here's my computations. The calculations are isolated for each segment of the race. The value in parentheses represents the length of each segment in furlongs; it is followed by the FPS following being adjusted for track variant. (Note: One can "rate" each horse by multiplying the number of furlongs by the FPS and summing together. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results. It allows one to equate different distances by comparing the amount of "work" performed.) Proud Strike: (2) 55.0, (2) 54.3, (2) 53.6, (2.5) 52.2 Code West: (2) 55.3, (2) 55.0, (2) 54.7, (2) 51.4 - note the fairly constant value through the first 6 furlongs. Agent: (2) 53.7, (2) 55.0, (2) 51.7, (2) 51.6 Golden Soul: (2) 51.4, (2) 56.1, (2) 54.3, (2.3) 50.5 Mylute: (2) 52.8, (2) 53.9, (2) 54.2, (2.3) 53.5 Palace Malice: (2) 57.4, (2) 56.7, (2) 54.3, (1) 52.1 - typical sprint Hardrock Eleven: (2) 56.0, (2) 59.3, (2) 53.0, (1) 50.5 - noticed how he tanked after the half mile Ive Struck a Nerve: (2) 51.7, (2) 56.6, (2) 54.3, (2.3) 50.6 - does not take into account going wide on both turns. Started slow and showed a burst to try to get into it. Racing luck showed that it was much better to save him for the Risen Star than keep punishing him. His 2nd and 3rd quarters are actually pretty good. Normandy Invasion: (4) 53.1, (2) 53.9, (2) 52.7, (1) 56.8 - came flying late, but this was last year and these computations are unusable. Usually when I see this, the increase of over 4 FPS in the last segment represents punishment on the horse. This is why we haven't seem him yet and why he didn't do a whole lot. I had him identified as an "also ran" on some of my other columns regarding this race. Oxbow: (2) 54.3, (2) 55.4, (2) 53.6, (2.3) 7.5 Bethel: (2) 53.0, (2) 55,2, (2) 53.1, (2.3) 51.4 He's Had Enough: (2) 53.4, (2) 52.8, (2) 55.3, (2.5) 51.1 - had one good segment but showed too much differences between each. Circle Unbroken: (2) 51.5, (2) 56.0, (2) 52.6, (2.3) 49.9
Mr. Ed More than 1 year ago
I'm sure your a nice man and have a blast working those numbers. But, it would make more sense if you showed up after the race and crowed about having your lock horse at a nice price getting beat only a dirty nose on the wire than to now try to show how your numbers prove what a good bet I've Struck a Nerve would have been. If by your system that would be true, then it would have been far more true that Oxbow would be much stronger as he was running away from Nerve in his last and Golden Soul would as well as he passed by him in the lane in his last. So if reviewing after the race, then would Oxbow have been your lock and Golden have been a better bet than Nerve?
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
I am not trying to prove Ive Struck a Nerve was a good bet, only that there was a mathematical explanation. I, like many others, passed him over based on his dismal finishes. Additionally, Ive Struck a Nerve was previously beaten by Code West. You miss the point when I illustrate Code West's nearly unwavering speed through his first 6 furlongs of his most recent start. The same phenomena was exhibited by I'll Have Another in last year's Triple Crown races. Again, this was only a prep and one shouldn't expect that their "pick" be involved in a grueling effort off the bench. Oxbow didn't hit any panel in the LeComte as fast as the sudden acceleration exhibited by Ive Struck a Nerve. Ive's subsequent panel was also respectable but because the race was already over at that point there was no sense in asking him to exhert himself any further. Golden Soul's 3rd quarter was not as good as Ive's. In fact, at that point in the race, Golden Soul was in a natural slow down losing 3FPS from the previous quarter mile. Neither Oxbow nor Golden Soul showed a steadiness in pace as compared to Code West. Multiply the number of furlongs for each panel times the FPS for each panel and sum them together. Code West's total exceeds both of these. Golden Soul isn't even close.
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
Glad I stayed out of this one. I really thought Code West was a lock. I totally overlooked Ive Struck a Nerve. However, Ive Struck a Nerve was not totally void of criteria going into this race. In his 2nd quarter mile of the LeComte, he hit 56.6 FPS and averaged 54.3 FPS through his next quarter mile. He started slow, but picked it up. The pace I am reporting here does not take into account that he was 3-4 wide on the turns; this would certainly enhance the situation. Only the 2 sprinters exceeded this 56.6 FPS pace figure at all. Palice Malice showed 57.4 FPS for his first quarter followed by a natural slowing down to 56.7 FPS, then 54.3 FPS, and 52.8 FPS in his last furlong for his prep. Hardrock Eleven showed 56.0 FPS for his first quarter, kicked it up to 59.3 FPS for the next quarter, then fizzled to 53.0 FPS and 50.5 FPS in his last furlong. Of all the horses coming out of 8 furlongs or more, Ive Struck a Nerve was the only one hitting a high pace figure in any segment of his previous race. I saw it, but his finishes looked dismal and I just passed him over in my handicapping. BTW: Beyer Speed figures are only good for determining the track variant. You have to reverse-engineer the final time where the 100 point score was awarded. It is through the 100 point score that all distances are theoretically tied together in terms of "parallel time". Once you know the final time where the 100 point score was awarded, a standard "parallel time" chart can be used to determine track variant. If you deal in FPS as I do, you can use the variant as a ratio. This allows parsing the race into segments where you can use the variant to determine a close approximation of true fractions.
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
you say a horse is lock, get a very nice price on him, then stay out of it? So what you're really looking for is a horse you're luke warm on, get even money then go in with both fists?
Charles Sakach More than 1 year ago
I couldn't bet to the track (due to family issues) nor do I have an Internet wagering account. I don't have to bet to enjoy racing...
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
Thats an awful lot of handicapping to stay away from a race.
Kalar Walters More than 1 year ago
Wow! We're talkin' half a nostril here.
Barry Mitchell More than 1 year ago
The Risen Star beyers issued is all wrong. They gave the winner a 95 Beyers, but Mark Valeski who race a slower time received a 97 beyers. Something is WRONG! Mark Valeski and the older horse race usually runs a 99 or 103 average. So how does a faster race receive a slower beyers. The winner should have received a 99 or 100. Code West improved off his last race behind a 100 beyers. Progression noted , so he should have raced 99 or 100 losing by a nose. Beyer needs to CORRECT the figure and quickly. There is a lot of discussion about this 95 number being incorrect
Perl More than 1 year ago
I'm sure they made an assessment that the track had somehow "sped up" between the mark valeski race and the Risen Star. It's the only explanation. Expect a long article from Dick Yerardi explaining the "imperfect" but logical mathematics being employed by beyer indistries.
Joel Winicki More than 1 year ago
Who cares??? Beyers figs are a joke anyway! ......as you just pointed out.
Mark Scheider More than 1 year ago
The issue is that youre using Beyers. I use the racing form for everything but.
Winston Taylor More than 1 year ago
News Flash! Violence out of the Derby run with a fractured leg.
Perl More than 1 year ago
He was 135-1 for good reason. How does this horse win? Glad I didn't bet on this race. I feel kinda bad for those who backed the runner-up.
AshleyGay0902 More than 1 year ago
I agree with Bob Wheeler.
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
Hey Ash......got any thought's of your own?
Bob Wheeler Jr. More than 1 year ago
I think what interests me so far this weekend, and sadly no key is discussing it, is that we've basically seen two of the hyped Kentucky Derby favorites look beatable at best and average at worst. Violence and Oxbow showed me that they're getting my show tickets and probably not much else.
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
as long as violence doesnt win I dont care who wins! : ]