02/16/2010 12:00AM

Stay Put set for first big test in Risen Star


NEW ORLEANS - Since winning an allowance race Jan. 3 at Fair Grounds, Stay Put has taken the course of action suggested by his name. But now it is time for Stay Put to get going again.

Stay Put was one of 12 horses entered Monday afternoon in the Risen Star Stakes, the second of three graded two-turn stakes races for 3-year-olds here. Rather than start Stay Put in the Lecomte Stakes on Jan. 23, his connections waited for the Risen Star, a race they hope will springboard Stay Put into the Louisiana Derby.

In the process, Stay Put has popped up on the radar of only the more zealous followers of early Triple Crown activity: Though he was one of 23 individual betting interests in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Stay Put closed at odds of 49-1 last weekend.

That is a somewhat appealing price on a winner of consecutive route races who appears to be a progressive early-season 3-year-old. Stay Put never showed speed in the morning to Steve Margolis, who trains Stay Put for Richard, Bertram, and Elaine Klein, and Margolis started Stay Put out in a two-turn race at Turfway Park last September. Third in his debut, Stay Put also finished third in a Churchill Downs route before clearing the maiden ranks Dec. 7 at Fair Grounds.

Stay Put's maiden win was fine, but his next-out allowance victory was better. Racing from last place in a 10-horse field, and with a slow pace in front of him, Stay Put swooped past all his rivals to win going away.

"The company is going to get tougher, the races are getting tougher, and he's going to have to step up," Margolis said Tuesday morning. "But he's a horse that's going in the right direction."

Stay Put might not have to overcome a slow pace this time, not if the horses entered in the Risen Star actually show up. A plane carrying Florida-based stock was scheduled to arrive here Wednesday, and could transport as many as three Risen Star-ites - Discreetly Mine, Drosselmeyer, and Tempted to Tapit. Todd Pletcher has been pointing Discreetly Mine to this race for several weeks, but the other two horses still had not been fully committed to the Risen Star over Saturday's Fountain of Youth early this week.

Drosselmeyer will be one of the favorites if he comes, while Tempted to Tapit should help insure a decent early pace. Tempted to Tapit, racing with blinkers added, set fast fractions during a blowout Aqueduct maiden win on Jan. 18, and his speed almost certainly will be used from an inside draw Saturday. Discreetly Mine, a troubled fourth in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid on Jan. 9, showed 21-second-and-change opening-quarter-mile sprint speed last year, and should also contribute to a solid pace Saturday.

Such a scenario would benefit not just Stay Put, but Lecomte winner and Risen Star morning-line favorite Ron the Greek. While Lecomte runner-up Maximus Ruler will miss the Risen Star with a bruised foot, Saturday's field also includes Lecomte third-place finisher Letsgetitonmon, another closer. Hotep, a promising Mark Frostad-trained A.P. Indy colt, took the worst of things at Monday's draw, landing post 12.

The Risen Star is one of six stakes on Saturday's 13-race card, but while the races are dotted with horses of quality, three drew short fields. Only six were entered in the Mineshaft Handicap, and one of them, Country Flavor, will start Friday night in a more suitable allowance race, trainer Greg Geier said. Another Mineshaft horse, Giant Oak, was cross-entered in the Fair Grounds Handicap, and trainer Neil Pessin said no final decision on which race Giant Oak would use for his 2010 debut had been made as of Tuesday morning. Regardless, the Mineshaft still features an appealing rematch between Friesan Fire and General Quarters.

The names of just six sprinting females passed the entry box for the Pan Zareta, while seven were entered in the Silverbulletday for 3-year-old fillies. There, the Pletcher-trained Devil May Care should be favored over Delta Princess winner Quiet Temper.

The Fair Grounds Handicap has no well-defined favorite on paper, and got nine entries in addition to Giant Oak. And finally, crack turf-sprinter Chamberlain Bridge is set to make his seasonal debut in the Colonel Power, a race he easily won last season.