Updated on 09/17/2011 9:55AM

Time to make good on promise

Indy Dancer, under exercise rider Rudy Ignacio at Palm Meadows in Florida last week, preparing for Sunday's Risen Star Stakes.

NEW ORLEANS - Badge of Silver, Indy Dancer, Saintly Look, and Seattle Hoofer all have hit the national radar as 3-year-olds with a chance to become Kentucky Derby contenders. Now, let's see if they can run.

The quartet of promising colts square off Sunday in the $150,000 , a bridge to the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and what lies beyond.

Badge of Silver, Indy Dancer, and Seattle Hoofer each have started their career with two wins, but for all their perceived ability none has run in a stakes race. Saintly Look won the Lecomte at one mile, but that race featured a short stretch run, and Saintly Look now tackles rivals of higher quality in a true route.

"That's what you do," said Mike Stidham, Seattle Hoofer's trainer. "You put them in against tougher horses and see how they handle it."

Whatever else these horses learn, they'll get experience racing in a big field. Thirteen horses were entered in the Risen Star, a Grade 3 stakes at 1 1/16 miles. Less than a furlong lies between the gate and the start of the first turn, and post position matters. Saintly Look has speed and drew the rail.

Badge of Silver has post 11, which his early speed figures to mitigate. Indy Dancer, a late runner, breaks from post 13 and should quickly drop back looking for position.

Nothing has stopped Indy Dancer so far. A ship-in from trainer Todd Pletcher's base in south Florida, Indy Dancer may be favored Sunday after winning a one-mile Aqueduct maiden race last fall and a two-turn Gulfstream Park allowance on Jan. 4. Indy Dancer, owned by Wertheimer Farm, has an impeccable pedigree - by A.P. Indy, out of a Mr. Prospector mare - and he doesn't look like a late-winter 3-year-old. Indy Dancer isn't tall, but he's heavily muscled and seems as solid as a 4-year-old.

What Indy Dancer lacks is seasoning.

"My plan was to run one turn one time at Aqueduct and then stretch him out," Pletcher said. Pletcher targeted a mid-December route race in New York, but bad weather led him to pass. "We decided just to send him down to Florida. In a perfect world, you might have another start or two, but you have to play the hand that's dealt."

In both his races, Indy Dancer has quickly dropped out of contention, launching his rally midway through the race and then powering through the stretch. It has worked so far, but deep closers need racing luck and a quick pace to succeed in top company.

"His natural running style is different than many of our horses," Pletcher said. "He's fallen out of the race right away. I think that will change as he races, but right now we don't want to change things too much."

Badge of Silver has won two sprints in very fast time. At issue is how far this colt can carry his tremendous speed. Trainer Ronny Werner has worked Badge of Silver with other horses and has watched him take dirt, rate, and finish in the morning. But with Badge of Silver's outside draw, jockey Robby Albarado will let him run out of the gate and try to settle after securing position.

Badge of Silver and Saintly Look are the speed of the race, and they probably will be eye to eye on the backstretch.

Seattle Hoofer scored a solid win when he made his debut in a two-turn maiden race, but in a Jan. 17 allowance win here Seattle Hoofer made two runs and showed a powerful burst of speed, winning by almost six lengths. The knock on Seattle Hoofer is that he has neither run especially fast nor beaten horses of quality.

"We absolutely don't know how fast he is," Stidham said. "That's what we're all about to find out."