02/05/2007 12:00AM

Two Californians top 14-horse Risen Star


NEW ORLEANS - Who knows if there are any future stars in this year's edition of the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, but it seems like half the 3-year-old crop has been entered in the race.

The $200,000 Risen Star, hardly known for attracting huge fields, drew the maximum 14 starters when entries were taken for Saturday's races on Monday. There are eight locally based 3-year-olds in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile race, another from Oaklawn Park, and two from Florida, but the probable top two betting choices, Circular Quay and Notional, are part of a three-horse California contingent that also includes longshot Spankey Come Home, and is due to arrive at Fair Grounds on Thursday.

Four other Saturday stakes were drawn Monday - the $200,000 Silverbulletday for 3-year-old fillies, the $200,000 Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup for older turf horses, the $200,000 Mineshaft for older dirt horses, and the $100,000 Taylor's Special, a turf sprint.

The Silverbulletday attracted nine entries, including Total, who has easily won three races since finishing second at Saratoga in her career debut, and Get Ready Bertie, who captured the Tiffany Lass Stakes here in her most recent race. High Heels, who ships from Oaklawn, could be third choice in the race.

The Fair Grounds BC lost significant luster when English Channel, an anticipated starter, wasn't entered. English Channel's connections had passed a Gulfstream Park stakes race last weekend, and had said they planned to use the Fair Grounds BC as a prep for a race in Dubai. The Fair Grounds BC still drew 10 entries, though Purim and Bureaucratic were cross-entered in the Mineshaft. Devilment, a two-time turf winner this meet, drew the far outside post, while Fort Prado, beaten a head by Purim in the Jan. 13 Colonel Bradley Handicap here, landed post 4.

The Mineshaft drew seven horses, but could scratch down to a shorter field if the cross-entered horses opt for turf. Florida shipper Master Command looks like the Mineshaft favorite, but the Bobby Frankel-trained Welcome Again should attract betting support.

Nine horses - few of whom have proven turf form - were entered in the Taylor's Special.

The Risen Star marks the 3-year-old debut for Circular Quay, among the best 2-year-olds in the country last season. Trainer Todd Pletcher finishes a 45-day suspension on Friday, but both Circular Quay and Master Command will start in the name of Pletcher's assistant Michael McCarthy.