Risen Star Stakes

This weekend there are several races that are going to serve as preps for both the Derby and Oaks.  One of the more interesting ones to look at is the competitive $400,000 G2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, the first prep of the season to award 50 Derby points to the winner.  There are many horses in this field of 14 that could step up and earn points in this race, but the ones I feel have the best chances are #14 War of Will (5/2), #8 Owendale (6/1), #9 Country House (20/1), #6 Hog Creek Hustle (8/1), and #1 Plus Que Parfait (10/1).  War of Will has drawn a tough post position and will have to get going quickly to be near the lead, but he is still the biggest win contender given the ability he has shown in his recent starts.  He overcame a wide trip to dominate the Lecomte by four lengths without fully extending himself and put away five of the horses he will be facing in the Risen Star.  There is a chance for rain on Saturday at Fair Grounds, and that is no issue for War of Wills given he won by five lengths the last time he saw an off track.  Even though he is only a maiden winner and 20/1 on the morning line, Country House has a big chance of upsetting War of Will and probably will be the second choice by the time the race goes off.  He has shown dramatic improvement in each of his three starts and recently overcame a disastrous start to win by 3 ½ lengths in a powerful last to first move.  The horse he almost beat in his second start, Kentucky Wildcat, recently ran huge to get second in the Sam F. Davis, which only flatters this colt more.  Owendale is entering off a sharp 1 ½ length allowance win over Risen Star rivals Frolic More and Gun It and has the most experience in this field in two turn races.  He will need to improve to beat tougher competition than he has ever seen before, but he has shown a trend for improvement recently and should continue to improve given this is his third start off a layoff.  Plus Que Parfait had a horrible trip in the Lecomte after stumbling at the start and getting bumped around throughout, but he still made up ground late to finish 5th by 6 ½ lengths to War of Will.  He has run very well in his past dirt starts, and he could be a factor at a high price if he gets a clean trip this time around.  Finally, Hog Creek Hustle was a late running second to War of Will in the Lecomte and closed better than most of the other horses in the race.  He has shown dramatic improvement every time he has been stretched out in distance and should keep improving.  Good luck to all the connections!