Trained by Kenny McPeek, Rogue Romance heads a field ten 3-year-old thoroughbreds Saturday as the lukewarm 3-1 morning line favorite in the 38th running of the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds Race Course.
This will be the first start for Rogue Romance as a 3-year-old, who comes into the race off of a three-month layoff. But despite the layoff, McPeek knows how to get a young horse ready for the rigors of the Kentucky Derby trail. Last year he had the competitive Noble’s Promise and Rogue Romance, with a 2-0-1 record in four starts, appears to be a similar type colt.
In the Bourbon Stakes (G3) last October, Rogue Romance was steadied early and angled six-wide on the far turn but ran down the leaders late to win by 2 ½ - lengths. A month later in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Stakes (G1), Rogue Romance was clearly third-best to the likes of eventual Eclipse Champion Uncle Mo and Boys At Tosconova.
Whether Rogue Romance can win off of the layoff remains to be seen but I look for him to be competitive.
Three long shots I like are Machen (6-1), Santiva (6-1) and Decisive Moment (9-2).
Undefeated in two starts at the Fair Grounds with a combined winning margin of 10 ½ - lengths, Machen is the buzz horse and most likely will drop below his 6-1 morning line odds.
This will be Machen’s first stakes race. But what he lacks in experience may be compensated by his heart and “will to win” as he demonstrated those traits in his last race, patiently waiting behind a wall of horses until a hole opened at the quarter pole, and he charged through to win going away by 5-lengths.
That’s the kind of grit and determination I like to see in a young colt and if he continues to move forward he should go a long way on the Derby trail.
In four starts, Santiva has never been off the board and he makes his 3-year-old debut coming into the Risen Star off of a two-month layoff.
Santiva also appears to be a competitive colt with a second-place finish in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last October and a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs last November, defeating Astrology by one-half length.
One never knows if these young colts will move forward as a 3-year-old but a recent bullet work out on February 12 has peaked my interest in Santiva. He’s never fired a bullet in any of his work outs and that could be an indication that he is ready to run a good race.
I’ll be curious to see how he looks in the post parade.
Decisive Moment comes into the Risen Star with the most experience in stakes competition as four of his six starts have been stakes races including a second-place finish to Gourmet Dinner in the Delta Jackpot Stakes (G3).
Since his second-place finish in the Delta Jackpot, Decisive Moment appears to be moving forward. He won his 3-year-old debut last month as the favorite in the 8-furlong Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs – winning by 3 ½ - lengths. Here’s the chart summary:
DECISIVE MOMENT broke sharp from the inside to gain a clear early margin, remained clear up the backstretch, responded when challenged entering the drive, opened a clear margin deep stretch and finished with something left.
I like it that he finished going away and a recent bullet work out February 4 indicates that he could be ready to run another good race. With his front-running style, if Decisive Moment gets a clean break to take the lead, he could be very competitive.