The $400,000 Risen Star (G2) kicks off the Championship portion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series and highlights a dynamite 12-race at Fair Grounds that includes six stakes. A full field of 14 is set and the Risen Star anchors a highly-competitive All-Stakes Pick 4 sequence. Here are my thoughts on the stakes action and a Pick 4 ticket below: Colonel Power, 2nd race: The stakes action begins with turf sprinters and Wings Locked Up enters in career-best form, finishing with gusto to win the Turf Sprint at Sam Houston last out. Leading rider James Graham picks up the mount and the seven-year-old gelding can make it two straight stakes wins today. Al Stall Memorial, 4th race: A rallying fourth in the Mrs. Revere (G2) at Churchill Downs in her 2018 finale, Kabella opened this season with a disappointing seventh versus stakes rivals at Fair Grounds. The ground was off and the Kitten’s Joy filly didn’t appear to have her mind on business, and she adds blinkers today to keep her focused. Kabella showed an affinity for the course last year (three-for-three at Fair Grounds) and should have a fair pace to set up her late kick. Kabella offers appeal at 10-1 on the morning line. Mineshaft (G3), 9th race: I’m six-deep in the opening leg of the guaranteed $200,000 All-Stakes Pick 4 and Silver Dust rates as my top selection. The five-year-old gelding blew the first turn in the Louisiana H. last out but still managed to offer a stout challenge, threatening to win in midstretch before coming up a little short in second. He’s certainly been a late-developing type for Bret Calhoun and I like how the son of Tapit has come on in his last four starts, recording a pair of wins and a pair of seconds. Silver Dust still has upside in my estimation and I will tab him for a minor upset in this contentious field. Fair Grounds H. (G3), 10th race: Synchrony ran huge at Fair Grounds last year (three-for-three) and will take some beating. But I’m going with an up-and-coming turf runner from the Steve Asmussen barn, Combatant. His first attempt came on yielding ground and the four-year-old has run well in his other two turf starts, including an outstanding half-length third to River Boyne in the December 26 Mathis Brothers Mile (G2) at Santa Anita. Combatant was arguably best last time, forced to wait in traffic when launching his rally in upper stretch, and I loved how he blew past rivals when clear. I expect Combatant to be much better on turf than he was on dirt last year. Rachel Alexandra (G2), 11th race: Fair Grounds has proven to be a launching ground for Kentucky Oaks winners and a trio of juvenile graded winners – Positive Spirit, Oxy Lady and Serengeti Empress – will open their three-year-old season here. I’m going with Molto Bella off a sharp win in the seven-furlong Gasparilla at Tampa Bay Downs. A stakes runner-up last season, the Violence filly appeared much-improved last time and I like how she’s come back with a pair of sharp drills for Ian Wilkes. Plenty of pace appears signed on and Molto Bella can save ground from her inside post before making her presence felt. Risen Star (G2), 12th race: It’s best not to get too excited about Kentucky Derby prep races in January but War of Will generated plenty of enthusiasm in the Lecomte (G3) last month. Tyler Gaffalione always appeared to have a ton of horse and War of Will won with complete authority. He’s generated triple-digit BRIS Late Pace numbers in both dirt starts and has the tactical speed to avoid losing too much ground from an outside post. The competition will try to catch up in the months to come but War of Will looks too good for these rivals presently. I will single him in the All-Stakes Pick 4. Pick 4 ticket (races 9-12) 2,4,5,6,8,9 with 5,6,7,9 with 1,3,4,6 with 14 ($48) Good luck!