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Fair Grounds: Keith Desormeaux stands firm; Ive Struck a Nerve pays $272 in Risen Star
By Marcus Hersh
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.
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.
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!!!!
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
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.
Wow! We're talkin' half a nostril here.
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
News Flash! Violence out of the Derby run with a fractured leg.
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.
I agree with Bob Wheeler.
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.
as long as violence doesnt win I dont care who wins! : ]
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