Tipsheet: 2023 Risen Star Stakes

February 16th, 2023

A huge field of 14 sophomores will run 1 1/8 miles on the Fair Grounds dirt surface in the $400,000 Risen Star S. (G2) on Saturday. The key 2023 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series tilt will reward the top-five finishers with qualifying points on a 50-20-15-10-5 structure.

Risen Star Stakes Picks

  • #13 Victory Formation
  • #8 Tapit’s Conquest
  • #12 Crupi
  • #7 Sun Thunder

Risen Star Stakes Wagers 

  • $30 win: #13 Victory Formation
  • 50-cent superfecta: 8, 13 with 8, 13 with 7, 12 with all

Risen Star Stakes Contenders

#1 QUIET AS MIDNIGHT: The Benard Chatters trainee broke through with a maiden win over claiming foes two back prior to checking in second with allowance runners at Delta Downs most recently. The Midnight Lute colt is improving, but he will need a massive forward move to challenge this cast.

#2 SINGLE RULER: The Empire Maker colt graduated in style on the oval in his first run with blinkers on and intrigues on the class rise. He draws well to save ground in the early going, and the three-year-old could work his way into the exotics with improvement beneath Jose Riquelme.

#3 SHAQ DIESEL: Got up late to defeat allowance runners at Tampa Bay Downs in his latest venture. The Renaldo Richards trainee would still be a big surprise in this field while making his local debut, however.

#4 DETERMINEDLY: This Mark Casse pupil has improved since moving to the dirt and comes off a solid allowance victory on the course most recently. The Gun Runner S. third has proven to be capable of handling two turns, and I expect him to be forwardly placed from this post while in a good position at the top of the lane. Reylu Gutierrez inherits the mount.

#5 HARLOCAP: The $400,000 Justify colt looked the part in graduating in his third career assignment and will make a first run for the Steve Asmussen outfit. The dark bay possesses excellent early foot, and it’s an encouraging sign that his regular pilot John Velazquez comes in to ride. He’ll be dangerous if he clears into the first turn.

#6 ANGEL OF EMPIRE: One of three in the race for conditioner Brad Cox, the Classic Empire colt exits a good try when clearly second best in the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park in his latest showing. The $70,000 yearling buy has finished first or second in each of his trio of lifetime dirt efforts, and the bay will be in the mix in the stretch with another move forward on Saturday. Luis Saez will take the reins.

#7 SUN THUNDER: This intriguing contender ran evenly over a sloppy, sealed surface in the Southwest S. (G3) most recently, and I feel that he is sitting on a big race. The Kenny McPeek trainee has displayed a nice turn of foot to this stage of his development, and with the possibility of a lively early tempo, the colt could receive a nice set up in the lane under Brian Hernandez.

#8 TAPIT’S CONQUEST: A prime player from the Cox barn, he had a good prep when a close second to Determinedly in a local allowance tilt off the shelf in his 2023 bow. The $350,000 chestnut has done little wrong from a trio of tries to date, and the son of Tapit seems poised to give a nice account of himself while making his first stakes attempt. Florent Geroux riding adds to his appeal.

#9 CURLY JACK: The Iroquois S. (G3) victor will commence his sophomore season in a tough spot for conditioner Tom Amoss. The bay son of Good Magic shows four solid morning drills in preparation of Saturday, and while he might not be at 100 percent for this engagement, he still figures to make some noise from off the pace beneath Edgar Morales.

#10 TWO PHIL’S: The Street Sense S. (G3) romper kicked off his three-year-old campaign with a clear runner-up effort behind Instant Coffee in the Lecomte S. (G3) on this surface for trainer Larry Rivelli. The talented Hard Spun colt is bred to love a route of ground, and he will be an obvious factor with even slight improvement in his second run off the layoff. He fired a bullet five-eighths most recently to hint his readiness for the race.

#11 SILVER HEIST: The Whisper Hill homebred graduated on debut and came home a solid third in a recent allowance tilt for Asmussen. The Tapit colt is cut out to be a nice one and has obvious room for growth with just a pair of career efforts to his credit in advance of his stakes bow on Saturday. The wildcard will have Corey Lanerie in the stirrups.

#12 CRUPI: The maiden from the Todd Pletcher shedrow was a fine second in a run at Aqueduct last time out and could be a major factor while in search of his first victory. The chestnut son of Curlin will thrive at the distance and I expect him to be passing a lot of runners in the lane. James Graham will pilot the $275,000 yearling purchase.

#13 VICTORY FORMATION: The top selection for Brad Cox is three-for-three lifetime and rates a fine chance with his best performance under Flavien Prat. The $340,000 son of Tapwrit aced the one-mile trip in the Smarty Jones most recently and shows a quartet of very good morning moves in the interim. I envision the Kentucky-bred to be forcing the tempo while in the clear throughout.

#14 PRIVATE CREED: The multiple stakes winner on the lawn will try the main oval for the first time for Asmussen. The talented son of Jimmy Creed was given an impossible post, however, and he will need a lifetime best showing to be in the hunt late from the far outside with Tyler Gaffalione up.