Risen Star Stakes – Fairgrounds February 19, 2022
A number of horses will make their next start in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes on Feb. 19 at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
A large part of the Risen Star’s success is due to its date of mid-February. The race virtually guarantees the winner a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in May, it is the first race of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series and gives 85 Kentucky Derby qualification points, on a 50-20-10-5 scale.
In the 2010s, only a handful of Road to the Kentucky Derby preparation races had as many Derby participants as The Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, which produced Triple Crown contenders very smoothly and easily throughout the decade.
The first race was held in 1973, under the name of the Louisiana Derby Trial, run at the beginning of the year and produced a steady stream of top-quality winners. Master Derby (1975), Run Dusty Run (1977) as well as Linkage (1982). All placed win or place in the spring classics. However, it was the horse Risen Star who truly brought the race to the map taking home victories during the Preakness Stakes and in the Belmont Stakes where he won by 14.5 lengths in a performance reminiscent of his sire Secretariat.
In 1991, the distance of the race was extended up to 1+1/16 of a mile, as well in the year 2002 the American Graded Stakes Committee changed the course to Grade 3.
The Risen Star Stakes achieved Grade 2 status in 2010 and then a couple of years later, the purse topped $400,000, an increase of twenty times from the prize of $20,000
The level of competition also improved, and between the years 2010 and 2019, 28 horses participated in the Risen Star Stakes as a stepping stone towards the Kentucky Derby. A tiny sample includes the 2019 Kentucky Derby winner Country House, the 2019 Preakness Stakes winner War of Will, 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, 2013 Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow and the 2017 Horse of the Year, Gun Runner.
Certainly, the Risen Star Stakes is growing, the race was run in two divisions in 1989, 1993, 1995, and 2020. In 2020 the distance was increased by 1 1⁄8 miles, this was a change so well-loved that the race received 23 participants and was held by two different divisions.
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