Horse Racing

2024 Risen Star Stakes Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

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2024 Risen Star Stakes Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

The Kentucky Derby prep season becomes even more serious on Saturday, February 17, at Fair Grounds Race Course with the $400,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2)! The race drew a competitive field of 12 talented three-year-olds to go 1 ⅛ miles on the dirt. It is the first of the year’s preps to offer 50-25-25-10-5 points to the top five horses. 50 points has been historically enough to get a horse in the starting gate, making this an important race to watch and bet!

The field includes an intriguing mix of up-and-comers and more proven stakes horses. Lecomte (G3) winner Track Phantom, Smarty Jones winner Catching Freedom, and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner Honor Marie will cross paths with talented maiden winners like Hall of Fame, a recent ten-length winner over the local course.

Originally inaugurated in 1973 as the Louisiana Derby Trial Stakes, the Risen Star has become one of the most important Kentucky Derby prep races. The Risen Star winner has been the Kentucky Derby favorite the last two years: Angel of Empire in 2023 and Epicenter in 2022. Though neither won the Derby, Angel of Empire finished third and Epicenter finished second. Epicenter also went on to win champion three-year-old honors.

The 2021 winner of this prep race was none other than Mandaloun, who was placed first in the Kentucky Derby after the disqualification of Medina Spirit. Other notable horses to win recently include Preakness Stakes winner War of Will (2019) as well as Gun Runner (2016), who won the Louisiana Derby (G2) and would go on to be Horse of the Year the following year.

Keep reading to find out who is likely to win the Risen Star and become a force through the Kentucky Derby season!

Risen Star Stakes 2024 Information

  • Race Date: Saturday, February 17, 2024
  • Track: Fair Grounds Race Course
  • Post Time: 6:17 p.m. Central Standard Time
  • Distance: 1 1/8 miles
  • Age/Sex: three-year-olds
  • Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
  • Where to Bet: and FanDuel Racing

Risen Star Stakes Odds

This is the field for the 2024 Risen Star Stakes in post position order, including trainers, jockeys, post positions, and morning-line odds for each horse.

ML Odds
1Tizzy IndyKeith DesormeauxJames Graham50-1
2Awesome RutaJoseph FosterMitchell Murrill30-1
3Honor MarieWhit BeckmanRafael Bejarano6-1
4Sierra LeoneChad BrownTyler Gaffalione4-1
5MoonlightTodd PletcherFlorent Geroux12-1
6Real Men ViolinKen McPeekBrian Hernandez, Jr.8-1
7Hall of FameSteve AsmussenRicardo Santana6-1
View Full Table

Risen Star Stakes Prep Results

The Risen Star field includes horses out of nine different prep races. Only two come out of the Lecomte, the previous prep race at Fair Grounds Race Course on January 20. Track Phantom won that race in comfortable gate-to-wire fashion, while Tizzy Indy will try to rebound after finishing fifth, always far out of contention.

Two horses also come out of two different Kentucky Derby prep races for juveniles. Sierra Leone, who missed by just a nose in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct on December 2, returns to that same 1 ⅛-mile distance. Moonlight, who finished a belated fourth in the Remsen, will try to move forward. The top two horses from the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs on November 25 also make their sophomore debuts in the Risen Star: Real Men Violin made a bid in the upper stretch, but was overhauled by closer Honor Marie, who won the day.

Only one other horse in the field comes out of a stakes race. Catching Freedom made his stakes debut in the Smarty Jones on January 1 at Oaklawn, a race he closed to win by 2 ½ lengths.

Risen Star Stakes Contenders

Two runners come out of allowance races. Cardinale was most recently second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Gulfstream on January 5, while Awesome Ruta was third in a six-furlong allowance at Fair Grounds Race Course on January 18. The other three runners come straight out of maiden special weight wins. Those include Hall of Fame and Bee Dancer, both of whom won maiden races at Fair Grounds on the Lecomte undercard, as well as Resilience, who broke his maiden in a dirt route at Gulfstream on January 1.

These are the twelve entrants in the 2024 Risen Star Stakes, sorted by their post draw:

Tizzy Indy: With seven starts, he is the most experienced runner in the field. But, he was overmatched in the Lecomte, and his only win came in a $20,000 maiden claimer at Churchill. Keith Desormeaux is no stranger to springing upsets in Kentucky Derby prep races at Fair Grounds Race Course, but especially from this challenging post, he would be a surprise.

Awesome Ruta: He showed good form at the B-level Louisiana tracks as a juvenile, breaking his maiden by nine lengths at Louisiana Downs in September and missing by a neck in the Jean Lafitte at Delta. However, he has yet to finish better than a flat third in three allowance starts at Fair Grounds, and his one two-turn try was particularly dull.

Honor Marie: He hasn’t run a bad race in three starts, and his best yet came when he tried two turns for the first time in the Kentucky Jockey Club. He is a closer, but if he gets enough pace to chase, he should be fine—after all, last year, Angel of Empire won this race from a closing style. Trainer Whit Beckman can pop at a price with a layoff horse, too: no surprise, since he was an assistant to excellent layoff trainer Chad Brown before going off on his own.

Sierra Leone: A $2.3 million yearling, his career started well at Aqueduct: he broke his maiden at first asking over the one-turn mile, and then he rallied and missed by only a nose to frontrunning Dornoch in the Remsen, a Kentucky Derby prep race. His maiden win suggests he does not have to be as far back as he was in the Remsen, and trainer Chad Brown is excellent with layoff horses.

Moonlight: This Todd Pletcher trainee started his career on turf, but broke his maiden by eight lengths in a washout and has run on dirt ever since. In that time, he has nabbed minor shares in a pair of Kentucky Derby prep races, the Street Sense (G2) and the Remsen. His pace versatility is a plus, Pletcher is excellent off of layoffs, and his pedigree suggests he can blossom at age three.

Real Men Violin: His past performances are familiar for a Ken McPeek horse; it isn’t surprising to see a good horse of his take several tries to break his maiden before becoming a stakes horse. McPeek runners often need one after the layoff to find the winners’ circle, though his consistency means another underneath share is possible.

Hall of Fame: This seven-figure yearling was beaten in his sprint debut, but romped in stalk-and-pounce fashion on the Lecomte undercard, his first route try. In terms of speed, he still needs to take another step up, making it questionable whether he will be the right betting price. But, second off the layoff, he still has upside.

Catching Freedom: Trained by Brad Cox, conditioner of 2023 Risen Star winner Angel of Empire, Catching Freedom has not run a bad race in three starts. Even though he was off the board two back in an allowance, he was still beaten just 2 ¼ lengths after a bad trip late. He bounced back to win the Smarty Jones next out. The question is pace; he is going to have to improve to avoid being outkicked by some of the other closers.

Cardinale: He broke his maiden in a sprint at Gulfstream in stalk-and-pounce fashion; trying two turns last out, he battled on the pace and missed by a neck. He needs to improve, but he is second off the lay and could get a good forward trip in a race without a ton of speed, giving him some upside.

Resilience: It took him four starts to break his maiden, but he took a clear step forward when winning a January 1 maiden race at Gulfstream. The question is, however: did he move forward, or was the improvement about the Gulfstream dirt or the addition of Lasix? That is a question, as Lasix is prohibited in Kentucky Derby prep races.

Track Phantom: He has dominated the Fair Grounds spur of the Kentucky Derby trail so far, winning both the Gun Runner and the Lecomte. He looks like the speed of the speed, but he proved in the Gun Runner that he could battle on the pace and keep going.

Bee Dancer: Trainer Dallas Stewart steps him straight up in class after a sprint maiden win. Though Stewart typically does well with last-out maiden winners, he can disappoint in graded stakes and first-time routes. His early speed may give him an advantage since there is not a lot of other speed, but he will need to move forward.

Risen Star Stakes Past Winners Past Performances

Eleven horses have won the Risen Star in the last ten years, as the race was split into two divisions in 2020. All of the last eleven winners hit the superfecta in their last race, though only three actually won.

Among winners of the Risen Star in the last ten years, the most important prep race has been the Lecomte. Five of the last eleven winners of this race, including three of the last five, have come out of the Lecomte. They don’t have to be winners: only War of Will (2019) won. However, the other four have all been in the superfecta: Epicenter (2022) was second, while Mandaloun (2021) and Mr. Monomoy (2020) were third.

Four of the other six winners came from stakes company, though none of those horses won their previous start. Intense Holiday (2014) was third in the Holy Bull (G2), Gun Runner (2016) was fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club, Girvin (2017) was second in the Keith Gee, an overnight stakes at Fair Grounds three weeks before the Risen Star, and Angel of Empire (2023) was second in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn.

Modernist (2020) is the only recent winner of the Risen Star to come out of maiden company; he had last been seen breaking his maiden at Aqueduct. Bravazo (2018) came out of an allowance victory at Oaklawn.

Risen Star Stakes Undercard

Saturday is one of the featured cards of the Fair Grounds meet. The fourteen-race card includes five stakes races other than the Risen Star, which will be the final race of the day. Three are graded stakes: the Rachel Alexandra (G2) offers Road to the Kentucky Oaks points, the Fair Grounds (G3) features older turf horses, and the Mineshaft (G3) brings in classy older dirt horses. The card also features the Colonel Power, a turf sprint for older horses, and the Albert M. Stall Memorial, open to older fillies and mares on the grass.

With huge fields and top-class horses running all day long, make plans to watch Fair Grounds Saturday on TVG, and place your bets at FanDuel or!

Fair Grounds History

The first races at what was then the Louisiana Race Course were organized by Bernard de Marigny and others in 1839 and 1839. It was reopened as Union Race Course in 1852 but closed after five years because the nearby Metairie Course proved more popular at the time. It was renamed yet again in 1859 as the Creole Race Course, then was first given the name Fair Grounds in 1963. It continued to host racing during the Civil War.

That was not the end of the closing and opening of the course, though. It closed again after the Civil War when Metairie reopened. Still, some members of the Metairie Jockey Club broke away, re-formed the Louisiana Jockey Club, and restarted racing at Fair Grounds in 1872.

Racing was banned in New Orleans in 1908, though it returned in 1915. Though the track was in jeopardy after being sold to developers in 1940, racing-minded investors saved the track from certain destruction in 1941 and ensured horse racing would continue after World War II.

A stable period followed, and in 1981, the turf course was laid, and then the facility sold on in 1990. Following a devastating fire, a new grandstand had to be built in 1994 at a cost of $27 million, a grand reopening taking place on Thanksgiving Day 1997.

Although further damaged by Hurricane Katrina, another Thanksgiving Day reopening occurred in 2006, and since then, the track has run on an even keel and remains popular with traditional racegoers.

Risen Star Stakes FAQ

Q: When is the Risen Star Stakes?

A: The 2024 Risen Star Stakes will be run on Saturday, February 17, at Fair Grounds Race Course. The fourteenth and last race on the card, it is scheduled to go off at 6:17 p.m. Central Standard Time.

Q: Where is the Risen Star Stakes?

A: It takes place at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Risen Star Stakes?

A: Five trainers are tied with three wins apiece. Three of them have runners in 2024: Steve Asmussen entered Track Phantom and Hall of Fame, Brad Cox has Catching Freedom, and Todd Pletcher entered Cardinale and Moonlight. The other two trainers with three winners, Neil Howard and D. Wayne Lukas, did not enter horses this year.

Q: Who is the favorite for the 2024 Risen Star Stakes?

A: After winning both of the other Louisiana Derby prep races at Fair Grounds, the Gun Runner and the Lecomte, Track Phantom is the 7-2 morning-line favorite for the Risen Star Stakes. Off the strength of those wins, and because the pace flow is expected to be good for his early-speed style, expect him to hold as the favorite.

Q: Who is the best Risen Star Stakes jockey?

A: Three jockeys have won the Risen Star three times. Shane Romero and Robby Albarado are no longer active, though Florent Geroux rides Moonlight in the 2024 edition.

Q: Who won the 2023 Risen Star Stakes?

A: Angel of Empire won the 2023 Risen Star for trainer Brad Cox and jockey Luis Saez. Cox and Saez reunite in 2024 with Catching Freedom.

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