Did We See a Derby Horse in the Risen Star? – Super Screener
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Did We See a Derby Horse in the Risen Star?

Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Risen Star (G2)

The G2 Risen Star was the first Kentucky Derby prep to offer 50 Derby points to the winner which makes it, essentially, a “win and you’re in” prep. In addition, it was contested at 1 1/8 miles which begins to help separate true contenders from pretenders.

The Super Screener Top Win pick, Mandaloun, was certainly no pretender as he won this race with a good degree of authority. When adjusted for the track variant, the pace was very fast in this race and he tracked it very closely, yet, powered home to hold off the the 2nd and 1st place finishers of the Lecomte Stakes… Proxy and Midnight Bourbon. Had he not been used hard early from his outside draw in the Lecomte and then lose ground while traveling 3 to 4 wide on both turns, Mandaloun could very easily be undefeated in four career starts.

Note, that with blinkers added, he moved forward again in his form cycle setting him up well for another progression in his next start. Brad Cox charges typically peak in their 4th start off the layoff versus the more traditional peak event of the 3rd start off a break, so look for one more prep, probably in the Louisiana Derby, before heading to Kentucky. 

While I would have liked to have seen a Late Pace figure of 90+ (versus 88), this was a very solid prep effort and if he is capable of building on this performance, he’ll become a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender. His next prep will tell us all we need to know.

El Camino Real Derby (G3)

Not exuding confidence, connections of Rombauer decided to head up north to Golden Gate to take on softer competition in the G3 El Camino Real Derby. That strategy paid off as Rombauer mowed down this anemic field late, to just snare the win away from the game filly and So. Cal shipper, Javanica, who arguably ran the better race.

While the win by Rombauer was visibly impressive, the “numbers” came back as anything but. Note, that he barely cracked the 90 mark in his BRIS Speed Rating figure. And, for a closer type, an 87 BRIS Late Pace figure is pretty weak.  

By sending this horse to San Francisco, connections were acknowledging that their charge is not Kentucky Derby material and will be best suited to continuing to face easier taking down purses restricted to 3-year-olds or switch back to the turf after the run-up to the Derby, which is the surface he’ll probably appreciate the most.

With Oaklawn Park racing canceled due to inclement weather, the Southwest will now be run on 2/27. We’re still looking forward to the seasonal debut of BC Juvenile winner, Essential Quality, but we’ll have to wait another week…

The Saudi Cup is the main event this weekend, with several top US-based horses shipping over to compete for the $20M purse. It is also a weekend that is light on graded stakes action in the US, but we’ll leverage full fields and fast tracks across the country in search of the most bettable races on the weekend including racing from Sam Houston Saturday night as they card some state-bred stakes action. 

Until this coming weekend…Go Fast and Win! 

Mike