02/01/2011 4:07PM

Risen Star next challenge for Machen

Lou Hodges Jr.
Machen, who won the first two races of his career at Fair Grounds, is one of two horses trainer Neil Howard has entered for Saturday's Louisiana Derby.

Machen, probably the most exciting 3-year-old prospect in New Orleans, made a successful transition from sprinting to routing when he won an entry-level allowance race Sunday. Now it’s time to see how Machen will stack up against stakes opponents, something he could try as soon as the Feb. 19 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

“If everything goes well we are leaning toward the Risen Star,” trainer Neil Howard said Tuesday morning.

Machen appeared to have exited his Sunday victory in good shape, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the race didn’t tax him. Locked in behind horses most of the way, Machen got to engage in real running for less than a quarter-mile of the mile and 70-yard race. Rank early while inside and behind a very slow pace (25.58 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 50.68 for the half, and 1:15.61 for six furlongs), Machen relaxed into a more comfortable stride under Jamie Theriot after negotiating the first turn.

WATCH REPLAY: Machen's Sunday allowance win at Fair Grounds >>

“Jamie said he settled in halfway down the backside,” said Howard. “Then it was just a matter of finding a seam.”

That didn’t happen until the field had straightened for home, but once clear Machen accelerated rapidly and drew off to win by five lengths over last-start maiden-route winner Don Dulce. The slow pace led to a modest final time, 1:44.60, and a 76 Beyer Speed Figure, far lower than the flashy 95 produced by Machen’s sharp debut sprint win Jan. 2.

Machen has been able to win his first two despite breaking slowly in both races, a habit that carried over from morning training to afternoon racing, said Howard, who trains Machen for owner-breeder Courtlandt Farms.

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“He walks right in the gate, he looks down the track, and then he just breaks that half-step slow,” said Howard.

The slow breaks are something Machen will need to get past, but on Sunday his start helped Machen get valuable schooling during his race.

“Maybe that was a blessing in disguise,” Howard said. “Stretching out, he was maybe going to go too fast early.”

Forest Uproar goes just fast enough

Forest Uproar on Saturday ran the slowest 1 1/16-mile race you may ever see in North America – and in so doing became a stakes winner.

A complete pace void in the Marie Krantz Handicap on turf led to a glacial pace, with early leader Caminadora, who usually is a deep closer, setting splits of 28.65 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 55.85 for the half. Forest Uproar tracked the pacesetter, took over in the stretch, and won the Krantz by three lengths, running 1 1/16 miles miles in 1:51.30, which would be a modest time for a 1 1/8-mile race.

Crazy times aside, it was another strong performance from Forest Uproar, who had won allowance races at Keeneland and Fair Grounds before capturing the Krantz. The 5-year-old Forest Wildcat mare bred and owned by Sam-Son Farms had missed almost a year of racing before her October return at Keeneland, though trainer Mark Frostad said Forest Uproar had suffered no serious injury.

“She just was jarred up, and it took us a long time to get her back,” Frostad said. “We took our time with her, and she’s been doing great.”

Frostad said he wasn’t certain whether Forest Uproar would return for the $60,000 Lacombe Handicap on Feb. 26. A tentative longer-term goal is the $100,000 Bayou Handicap on March 26.

Napravnik gets days

Anna Rose Napravnik has been suspended seven calendar days, Feb. 6-12, by Fair Grounds stewards for her ride on Feelin Blue in the fifth race Saturday. Feelin Blue bumped another horse during the stretch run of a low-level maiden-claimer and was disqualified from second to fourth for interference.

Through Monday, Napravnik held a two-win lead, 48-46, over Richard Eramia in the Fair Grounds jockey standings. She said on Tuesday that she had not yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.