02/14/2011 5:28PM

Risen Star attracts field of 10 at Fair Grounds

Lou Hodges Jr.
Machen, with Jamie Theriot up, wins an allowance to make his record 2 for 2.

NEW ORLEANS – That’s more like it.

One month after a mere four horses contested the Lecomte Stakes, the first of Fair Grounds’ three route stakes for 3-year-olds, a far more competitive field of 10 was entered Monday in the Grade 2, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes, the local prelude to the Louisiana Derby and one of six stakes races on Saturday’s program.

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The Risen Star will be the 3-year-old debut of Rogue Romance, who ended his 2-year-old season with a third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Rogue Romance, who will break from the rail under Julien Leparoux, is one of five horses shipping west from Florida for the Risen Star, and one of two Ken McPeek-trained 3-year-olds who could play a major part in the proceedings Saturday. McPeek on Monday also entered Kathmanblu, who should be a defined favorite in the Rachel Alexandra Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

The other Floridians are Decisive Moment (post 3, Kerwin Clark named to ride), second in the Delta Jackpot and winner of the Jean Lafitte at Delta; Pants on Fire (post 4, Joe Bravo), runner-up in the Lecomte Stakes; Mucho Macho Man (post 5, Eibar Coa), fourth as the favorite in the Jan. 30 Holy Bull Stakes; and Santiva (post 7, Mike Smith), winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill in his 2-year-old finale.

The two primary Fair Grounds-based Risen Star hopefuls, Machen (post 6, Jamie Theriot) and Justin Phillip (post 9, Shaun Bridgmohan), both breezed here Monday morning. Justin Phillip worked alone at about 6:30 a.m., going a half-mile in a snappy 48 seconds, fourth-fastest of 107 works at the distance. Machen worked in company with the older turf horse Hidden Glance, going five furlongs in 1:01.80 under Theriot. Hidden Glance broke off a few lengths in front of Machen, who waited patiently behind his mate for Theriot to give him his cue. Once asked in the stretch, Machen quickened instantly, opening several lengths before the finish line. Trainer Neil Howard said he timed Machen’s final three furlongs in 35.80 seconds and his final quarter-mile in under 24 seconds.

“He went beautiful,” Howard said. “He didn’t need to set the world on fire.”

Machen is 2 for 2, having scored a fast sprint maiden win before rallying from behind a slow pace to capture a two-turn allowance race on Jan. 30. Justin Phillip won a two-turn allowance race Jan. 1, but turned in a poor performance as the even-money favorite in the Lecomte. Justin Phillip raced with blinkers added in the Lecomte, but won’t do so in the Risen Star. His major work for the Risen Star took place Feb. 7, when Justin Phillip zipped six furlongs in 1:11.80.

The others in the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star are Action Ready, who was third in the Lecomte; Sorgho, a Sam Houston maiden winner; and Liondrive.

The Risen Star goes as race 10, last of the six stakes. The sequence starts with the Colonel Power Stakes, a turf sprint that should have Due Date as a favorite, then moves on to the Pan Zareta before an allowance race pops into the menu. Then comes the Rachel Alexandra stakes, which has Northern California shipper Lilacs and Lace – a recent private purchase making her first start for trainer John Terranova – and Silverbulletday Stakes winner Bouquet Booth set to oppose Kathmanblu.

The Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap is headed by 2010 Louisiana Derby winner Mission Impazible, who will be making his first stakes start at age 4. A deep field in the Grade 3 Fair Grounds Handicap includes layoff comebackers Loup Breton and Workin For Hops, as well as two-time Sword Dancer Handicap winner Telling and Gran Estreno, winner of the Colonel Bradley here last month.