01/28/2011 4:41PM

McPeek 3-year-olds target Risen Star, Rachel Alexandra

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Coady Photography/Keeneland
Rogue Romance, winning the Grade 3 Bourbon, is being pointed to the Feb. 19 Risen Star for Ken McPeek.

Rogue Romance is among the top male 3-year-old prospects in Florida this winter, and Kathmanblu is one of the best 3-year-old fillies there, but both horses are likely to ship to Fair Grounds for their first dirt start of 2011, trainer Ken McPeek said Thursday. McPeek has penciled in Rogue Romance for the Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 19, and Kathmanblu is tentatively being pointed to the Rachel Alexandra, formerly called the Silverbulletday, on the same program.

“They’re both coming over, hopefully on the same plane,” said McPeek, who said shipping arrangements hadn’t yet been decided. “It looks like there’s going to be a plane that week.”

McPeek is hoping to turn the clock back to 2002, when he swept the two stakes with Repent and Take Charge Lady, who went on to win more important Fair Grounds stakes in March − Repent won the Louisiana Derby, and Take Charge Lady won the Fair Grounds Oaks.

Repent won the Risen Star by more than two lengths, Take Charge Lady the Silverbulletday by more than six, and Rogue Romance and Kathmanblu could wind up as standouts in the two races next month. No horse in either division has so far stepped forward with a definitive New Orleans performance this meet, but Rogue Romance finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and Kathmanblu won the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill last fall by more than eight lengths.

Kathmanblu won her 3-year-old debut Jan. 22 in the Sweetest Chant Stakes on turf at Gulfstream, scoring by more than one length under a hand ride despite disliking the racing surface, according to McPeek.

“We decided to run her more than anything because she has so much pent up energy,” McPeek said. “I don’t think she’s a grass horse, and I probably won’t have her back on the turf for a while. She likes to run, she’s healthy, and she’s come out of the race fine. We’re excited to have her back on dirt.”

Rogue Romance, who before the Breeders’ Cup easily won the Grade 3 Bourbon on Keeneland turf, got about five weeks of rest and relaxation after his BC Juvenile third, McPeek said. He has turned in three workouts at Gulfstream and will have time for three more before the Risen Star.

“He’s done really well,” McPeek said. “He ought to be pretty salty over there, I think.”

General Quarters unlikely for meet

General Quarters made four starts during a successful 2009-2010 Fair Grounds meet, but though he returned to serious training following a layoff earlier this month, owner-trainer Tom McCarthy said he doubts General Quarters will be ready before the end of the meet in New Orleans.

“It’ll probably be sometime at Churchill,” McCarthy said.

General Quarters, winner of the 2009 Blue Grass, finished second in all four of his Fair Grounds starts last season, including one to Battle Plan in the New Orleans Handicap. His first start after shipping back to Kentucky produced his lone 2010 win, but it was a good one, a neck victory in the Grade 1 Turf Classic on Derby Day at Churchill, McCarthy’s home track.

General Quarters was third in the Stephen Foster back on dirt, then tailed off in his two final starts in 2010, finishing sixth in the Arlington Handicap and seventh in the Arlington Million before going to the sidelines. McCarthy said General Quarters resumed training Jan. 15.

Pretty much gone these days are the mornings General Quarters dragged his owner-trainer around the shed row while being cooled down after exercise, McCarthy said.

“He’s matured, but he does still walk around there pretty inspired,” he said. “He wants to get around, get it finished, and get something to eat. But he’s much easier now. He understands what the process is every day.”

Gazillionaire strikes at 119-1

Did you bet on Gazillionaire in the second race Thursday? Anyone who did might have become a gazillionaire when she cruised home a 1 1/4-length winner at odds of 119-1 under Carlos Gonzalez. Her victory produced by far the highest win payoff of the meet, an even $240.

A 4-year-old Louisiana-bred filly trained by one Romeo Omana, Gazillionaire was 20-1 on the morning line, and on paper actually did not look like a 100-1 shot. Her three recent starts were poor but had come around the Delta Downs bullring. Last summer at Evangeline Downs, a track more like Fair Grounds, Gazillionaire had regularly been at least mildly competitive in races such as the Louisiana-bred $5,000 nonwinners-of-two claimer she won Thursday. But that’s all much easier to point out after the fact.