Kentucky Derby 2022: Race Review of the G2 Risen Star Stakes
In what many members of the turfwriting media and handicappers considered a titanically drawn race, the Grade 2 Risen Star was essentially over before the 1st call.
Coming into the contest though, which had Kentucky Derby Points of 50-20-10-5 to the top 4 finishers on the line, there were a bevy of betting options to be had. The “favorites” included Kenny McPeek’s Smile Happy #8 (2/1), Mark Casse’s Pappacap #1 (4/1), Steve Asmussen’s Epicenter #5 (4/1), and finally, Chad Brown’s Zandon #7 (4/1). Eclipse-winning trainer Brad Cox had a pair of entries present, Tawny Port #4 and Bodock #9, but both ended up being boxcar odds by the time post time rolled around.
In a distance-test like 1 1/8th, one that most of these 2-yr-old colts had never attempted, it can be difficult to tell just which one will make the lead. When the bell rang, it was the reigning Eclipse Award jockey, Joel Rosario, who hustled his mount, Epicenter #5 to the front. Swiftly-handled, it was a wise move. As for the other top runners, Pappacap #1 tried to keep up (3rd), highly-touted Smile Happy #8 (8th) was shuffled back, and Zandon #7 (10th) hopped at the start, sadly …
Down the backstretch, Asmussen’s well-conditioned colt by Not This Time began to cruise, and it was apparent that he had the race in his clutches. Setting fractions … 23.79, 47.97, 1:12.25, 1:36.58, and finally, 1:49.03, the race was over. It was a precipitous end to a race that built all sorts of “cred” over the course of the week. As for the minor awards, it was Smile Happy #8, guided by Corey Lanerie that ended up rolling into 2nd, Jose Ortiz’s late-running Zandon #7 that was 3rd, and last in the “Points” fight, it was Todd-Pletcher-Luiz Saez’s Pioneer of Medina #6, that settled for 4th (Odds 34/1).
Epicenter’s #5 jarring, “on the engine,” wire-to-wire score was an impressive display (he now sits atop the Derby Points Register with 64), and proved that the “All-Time Winningest Trainer in North American History” a legitimate Kentucky Derby threat. As we stand now, this 3-yr-old is the “favorite” for the “1st Saturday in May.” Asmussen has options, and it is thought will probably target the Louisiana Derby, slated to be run on 26 March. KYD Points for that race come to the tune of 100-40-20-10 …
As for the “Payouts” in the Risen Star Stakes, Epicenter #5 brought … Win-$9.00, Place-$4.20, and Show-$3.20. The total WPS Pool on Saturday for Race 13 was an incredible $1,496,289.00, which was a tidy sum. Who will reassemble for the final leg of the Louisiana Series at the Fair Grounds? Not sure, as of yet, but what we do know is that seeing the top 3 finishers come back (hope to see Zandon #7), would make for an incredible rematch race. With so many Grade 1s yet to come, the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” … it is rolling right along!
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