The way things panned out, Anneau d’Or‘s head loss to Storm the Court in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last November not only proved costly on the day, but was also the difference when Eclipse Award voters came around to choosing a titlist in a division with no definitive leader.
Following another head loss, to Thousand Words in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), the Golden Gate-based Anneau d’Or will be hoping to land on the right side of a photo, at the very least, in Saturday’s second division of the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.
“We have to find a way to get past horses,” trainer Blaine Wright said. “Joel Rosario flew up (to Northern California) and worked him last week and got to know him. Hopefully the changes will work out to our advantage.”
Another seeming advantage for Anneau d’Or is that he landed in what is arguably the softer of the two Risen Star divisions, though he’ll still have to run faster than 11 rivals that are also gunning for the winner’s allotment of 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, which would virtually assure whomever wins a position in the Derby starting gate.
“That was probably the number one factor in our decision to come to Fair Grounds,” Wright said. “The spacing between the Risen Star and the Santa Anita Derby ([G1] on Apr. 4) is really nice. It allows us to travel across the country, come back and still get six weeks in between races. Those are the two races we’ve targeted, and hopefully the horse and I keep doing what it takes to get us where we want to go.”
Anneau d’Or adds blinkers for the Risen Star, while Finnick the Fierce sheds them after modestly rallying for fourth in the Jan. 18 Lecomte (G3) following a slow start. The gelding previously missed in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) by less than a length at odds of 87-1.
Also looking to rebound from a recent loss is Lynn’s Map, who beat Mr. Monomoy in a Dec. 21 allowance at Fair Grounds, and then scratched from the Lecomte after drawing a wide post to run instead in the Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn. However, he was a well-beaten fifth after seemingly not taking to the muddy strip.
“We’re throwing out that race at Oaklawn,” assistant trainer David Carroll said. “The track seemed to be very sticky that day and to me he never looked settled and comfortable. When (jockey) Miguel (Mena) asked him to pick it up, Lynn’s Map sort of lost his action and never looked happy in that race.”
Mailman Money edged first division contender Digital in his debut at Churchill Downs in November, and last time romped by more than five lengths in an off-the-turf allowance at Fair Grounds. Liam’s Lucky Charm, meanwhile, stretches back out after cruising in the 7-furlong Pasco S. at Tampa Bay Downs when adding blinkers.
Several in this division of the Risen Star are stepping up after graduating in their most recent outings. That list includes Modernist, Truculent, Mr. Big News, and Major Fed.
The last of 13 races on an excellent Louisiana Derby Preview Day card, the 1 1/8-mile second Risen Star division is scheduled for shortly after sunset and will distribute Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 50-20-10-5 to the top four finishers.