02/21/2015 8:53PM

International Star shows heart in winning Risen Star

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Lou Hodges Jr./Hodges Photography
International Star wins the Risen Star Stakes by one length Saturday at Fair Grounds.

NEW ORLEANS – Owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Mike Maker got the Lecomte Stakes and the Louisiana Derby last year with Vicar’s In Trouble, and on Saturday at Fair Grounds, they took down the one major 3-year-old stakes here they missed in 2014 as International Star won the Risen Star by one length over War Story.

International Star is two-thirds of the way to a sweep of the local sophomore dirt-route stakes, having already captured the Lecomte. Unlike Vicar’s In Trouble, a fast frontrunner, International Star does his best work racing from behind, but in appearance, the two share traits. Both are small horses, lighter made, and not the type to catch the eye.

“He’s not much to look at, but he has a big heart,” said winning rider Miguel Mena.

Mena had much to do with the victory. Breaking from post 9, he scooted over the rail before getting halfway around the clubhouse turn, and there, he and International Star remained planted. The little colt is brave. Twice he brushed up against the fence, and his sustained rally required squeezing through two tight holes, the last of which brought him past the pace-setting St. Joe Bay and up to the front, where he out-finished War Story.

“I don’t know why, but he likes being on the rail,” Mena said. “He doesn’t even try to check himself when it gets tight.”

Victory in the Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star earned International Star 50 more qualifying points toward the Kentucky Derby, giving him 71. He is in the Derby if he can make it there.

“I’m delirious,” said Ken Ramsey, watching from Gulfstream Park. “I turned around and sang ‘My Old Kentucky Home.’ ”

Kent Desormeaux, riding War Story, claimed foul on Mena, alleging interference on the first turn when Mena angled to the rail and crossed in front of Desormeaux. The claim was disallowed, but War Story ran well in defeat and earned 20 more Derby qualifying points himself.

“I had the same trip as the winner, but I had to come around, and he cut the corner, and that was the difference,” Desormeaux said.

War Story, for the second straight race, broke poorly, while St. Joe Bay was away well and took the lead, with Hero of Humor coming up to press the pace through quick splits of 23.29 seconds and 47.08. Tiznow R J sat the perfect trip in third, but none of the early leaders had a say at the finish. War Story appeared to have the better momentum while wide at the five-sixteenths pole, but International Star found his best stride at the same time and motored home a winner. He ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.82 and paid $9.60 to win.

“Last time, he made the lead and got lost, and today, he was a little less lost when he got there,” said Mena. “I think there’s more in the tank.”

Trainer Mike Maker said from Florida that International Star, if all was well, would return for the Louisiana Derby. Though Maker runs a Fair Grounds string, the colt went back to Florida to train after the Lecomte and will do so again now.

Keen Ice, ninth in the early going, rallied for third, ahead of St. Joe Bay, and galloped out strongly.

“I just ran out of real estate,” said jockey James Graham.

The 3-2 favorite Imperia disappointed, chugging home a one-paced fifth.

“He just really struggled,” said jockey Mike Smith. “As long as he was in hand, he was fine, but when I went to ask him, he just floundered.”

Bluff was sixth and was followed by Tiznow R J, Big Big Easy, and Hero of Humor.

International Star, by Fusaichi Pegasus and out of the French Deputy mare Parlez, was an $85,000 yearling purchase. He won the Grey Stakes on Polytrack last year at Woodbine, and though ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, he was beaten just more than three lengths after breaking from post 11. Maker thinks he ran the colt back too quickly after that when he finished fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club, some five lengths behind Imperia. His record now stands at 4-2-0 from eight starts with earnings of $560,979.

--additional reporting by Mike Welsch

James Mcrae More than 1 year ago
little guy with a big heart kina reminds me of northen dancer all heart and everything the ramseys touch turns to gold good luck to them they will need it lots to do still
Forego137 More than 1 year ago
Those runners at the Fair Grounds have no chance in the Derby. There are far more superior runner's out West which most likely this yrs. Derby winner will be coming out of just like last yr. (California Chrome). The East still has a few that have not come out of the barn yet otherwise what is currently running out East is not going to cut it the first Sat in May.
Thomas Marshall More than 1 year ago
That is one funny joke.
Thomas Marshall More than 1 year ago
Even though War Story has finished 2nd to Int. Star twice, I believe War Story is better than Star. War Story has been so wide the last two, it's ridiculous. If both of these two run identical paths in the Louisiana Derby, I bet you War Story wins it.
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
No one should begrudge the Ramseys a Derby win
Thomas Marshall More than 1 year ago
War Story will.
Guy John More than 1 year ago
No horse that ran in the FOY or Risen Star will be anywhere close in the derby. Whoever invades the LA Derby will beat this bunch.
tommy More than 1 year ago
International star already qualified BOY!!! Not only did international star do 1 1/16 @ 1:43 but it was very cold and windy and the track was extremely heavy!!! Upstart did 1 1/16 @ 1:46 on a nice warm calm day and if he were to race international star, he would lose by 3-5 lengths!!!!
Thomas Marshall More than 1 year ago
Upstart was my early derby horse but with how slow he ran at the end and being DQ'd in the FOY, I don't like him anymore. For right now War Story is my pick and I believe he is the better horse than Int. Star.
joe d More than 1 year ago
IN the article, i noticed that DESORMEAUX was crying again. if you look at the race impartially and its hard for people to do that, you will see WAR STORY was late out of the gate,. but on the first turn, KENT had his eyes on the rail spot, then late on the turn MENA took that spot on the rail. hence the crying after the race. you could make the argument that WAR story could have won if he had gotten that RAIL trip. but i think the top two were the only derby type horses in the race
Thomas Marshall More than 1 year ago
You are delirious and obviously dislike Kent Desormeaux. He didn't cry and when a jockey rides his horse with his arms for over a mile, he/she will be huffing and puffing at the end. So grow up.
tommy More than 1 year ago
International star beat upstart by 3 lengths today!!!!! Upstart ran 1 1/16 @ 1:46.28 , where international star ran 1 1/16 @ 1:43 !! After you calculate vo2 max, it is like international star beat upstart by 3 lengths if they were to race each other!!!
Gary Peacock More than 1 year ago
A tale of two tracks.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Yes you are right!! I didn't even take into account the cold weather and wet track at fair grounds because the track was extremely have and they have higher altitude than Florida , gulfstream. This adds even more credibility to international star and I said he beat upstart by 3 lengths if they were to race but now I will say he beat upstart between 3-5 lengths which is more accurate!!! Gulf steam and Santa Anita are beautiful tracks, have beautiful weather, cleaner air and a bunch of pretty boys plucking heir eye browns. This is why they don't have any champions and Santa Anita and gulfstream horses never won a tripple crown!!! It's always horses from New York, fair grounds, Churchill downs that win because they are rough, they are tough, and they don't cry when it rains and hey have to run on a heavy track!!!!
joe d More than 1 year ago
you seem to have yourself convinced.lol
colin More than 1 year ago
Upstart ran last 1/16 in 7.30 which is absolutely ridiculous
StockPicker More than 1 year ago
the issue at gulf was the track was slow all day.
tommy More than 1 year ago
It's not the track that's slow, it's the horses!!!!! I didn't know the track can move????
tommy More than 1 year ago
I caught the $1 dollar trifecta only!!! International star is a STAR!!! This was an honest race and I lost the $1 dollar trifecta. It's a shame the 5 did not get 4th so I lose the $1 superfecta because I boxed 5,6,8,10 in superfecta for a dollar. Shame on you 5, shame on you, you could not get 4th!!! Mike smith is the worst jockey and he did not even come 4h in on race at fair grounds!! Mike smith will go no place, he won't win another derby in his life!!
Timothy Wheelster More than 1 year ago
I had $10,000 to win on #10 and had the super for a $5 ticket. It is so easy to make money betting on horses. If you can't make money betting on horses you are an idiot!!!!
Joe Eckert More than 1 year ago
Tommy,thats why they call it gambling..be a good winner and a gracious looser and you wont be as frustrated..
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Awful ride on Imperia.
Scott More than 1 year ago
Possibly, but it also looked like that horse failed to fire at every point of that ride. He might turn out to be a good horse, but he definitely didn't have it today.
Kim Lee More than 1 year ago
Imperia along with Frosted should excel at1-1/8th and longer...
TIMKUHN15 More than 1 year ago
I like Imperia, didn't fire at all, I got 24-1 in the pre derby pool....
joe d More than 1 year ago
maybe the horse is just not GOOD enough. and wasn't MIKE smith on him? hes one of the best. all the trainers know it
Ceil Rock More than 1 year ago
Maybe he is a turf horse after all. His only win was on the grass last year.
jim lefferts More than 1 year ago
International Star looked like Mine That Bird flying around the turn scraping paint. You seldom see that.
Scott More than 1 year ago
The only thing International Star didn't do like Mine That Bird is draw off and win by over 7 lengths. Still, amazing squeeze no matter what you think of his chances come Derby Day.