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Risen Star: Circular Quay meets Notional
by Handicappers ( / Globeform (
Last update: 2007-04-20 03:44:37 (First published: 2007-02-09 22:15:18 )

Fair Grounds 10 Feb: The road to the Kentucky Derby continues, and we have a good edition to the Risen Star Stakes (G3) on Saturday.

Circular Quay, such an impressive winner of the Hopeful Stakes (G1) last year, and also second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), is the favorite. He makes his seasonal debut, while Notional has already jumped that hurdle, in good style when winning the San Rafael Stakes (G2).

These two stick out but others do have a shot, and two in particular make this an interesting contest. The Remsen (G2) second Zanjero can give us a line to Nobiz Like Shobiz, and the LeComte (G3) runner-up Izzie’s Halo should give us a line to Hard Spun.


Fair Grounds 10 February 2007 – 1 1/16 miles dirt

Top ranked horse on 100, with others ranked down in pounds.
Horses presented with sires and riders.

100 – CIRCULAR QUAY (Thunder Gulch) J Velazquez
..94 – NOTIONAL (In Excess) R Albarado
..88 – IMAWILDANDCRAZYGUY (Wild Event) F Jara
..87 – IZZIE’S HALO (Halo’s Image) J Campbell
..87 – ZANJERO (Cherokee Run) J Castanon
..84 – TEUFELSBERG (Johannesburg) E Wilson
..84 – SPANKEY COME HOME (Came Home) G Olguin
..80 – WEATHER WARNING (Storm Cat) L Meche
..80 – MAKEITHAPENCAPTAIN (Aptitude) M Zimmerman
..77 – BETA CAPO (Langfuhr) D Meche
…? – WESTWON (Gone West) C Lanerie
…? – SLEW’S TIZZY (Tiznow) J Graham
…? – SCAT THIEF (Cat Thief) J Talamo

Circular Quay was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), but was beaten 10 lengths by the winner Street Sense, and it was not his best performance to date. It was not even his second best! Circular Quay ran in three big races last year, and performed to GF 116+, 112+ and 110+ in these three. He ran a solid race behind Street Sense, but he ran even better two starts earlier, when winning the Hopeful. After that win he was a beaten favorite in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland, where Great Hunter seemed to outstay Circular Quay and beat him by 1 ¾ lengths. Street Sense was third. It was a strong, strong race that has produced a bunch of subsequent winners.

The Thunder Gulch colt had previously been visually so, so impressive when coming from around fifteen lengths off the pace to simply blow by Scat Daddy for a 4 ¼-length win in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) over 7 furlongs at Saratoga. Scat Daddy went on to win the Champagne Stakes (G1) in good style, giving the form a solid boost, and he also ran quite well at the Breeders’ Cup.

On that form, Circular Quay is squarely the one to beat here. It is hard to know what to make of him, quite yet, though. Is he closing sprint-miler, or will he stay 1 ¼ miles and be a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby (G1)? Tough call, but one thing seems obvious; he needs to win the Risen Star to hold his prominent position in the Derby future books.

Notional is just as easy to pick as the second choice. He won well last time out, when landing the San Rafael Stakes (G2) over a mile at Santa Anita. Fitted with blinkers for the first time, he was an easy 4-length winner over the pacesetter Tenfold, who came out best in a triple photo for the place. Notional raced in third early, moved ahead at the top of the lane and won as he pleased. This was his fourth lifetime start and he improved really nicely. He also gave Stormello a bit of a boost – the horse that beat him into sixth in the Hollywood Futurity (G1). Prior to that run, Notional had finished third behind the classy duo Belgravia and Dilemma in the Hollywood Prevue (G3). By In Excess, out of the French Deputy mare Truly Blessed, this colt promises to stay at least 9 furlongs – but he takes a smaller step up in distance here. In is favor is his race sharpness, he may hold fitness advantage over Circular Quay. On the negative side, one cannot look at this horse’s profile without mentioning that his runner-up in the San Rafael, Tenfold, was a beaten odds-on favorite next time out.

Zanjero is interesting, having run second to Nobiz Like Shobiz in the Remsen Stakes (G2) on his last start as a juvenile. He was no match for Nobiz Like Shobiz, who made a good comeback when winning the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) last weekend, but Zanjero could well be improving this year. He had previously beaten the impressive maiden winner First Defence readily by a length over 8.5 furlongs at Churchill Downs. If he is sharp and ready, he has a good chance of hitting the board here.

Imawildandcrazyguy is coming off an easy win in a much softer race, and he ran to a respectable rating behind Green Vegas in the In Reality Stakes at Calder last fall. He is quite exposed, so maybe Izzie’s Halo is a better card to throw into the trifecta plan. He was an impressive maiden winner over 6 furlongs in December, and ran a game race to be second behind Hard Spun in the LeComte Stakes (G3) over a mile in January – both races here at the Fair Grounds. He will give us a line to Hard Spun, who looked something out of the ordinary that day.

Spankey Come Home ran a remarkable race last time out, when losing the race twice – yet passing the post first. He lost it first by veering out badly entering the straight, and taking a rival with him. He lost ground, still came back well to beat them all. But a disqualification was inevitable – and he was taken down by the Stewards. He looked quite good, but the third placed Time Squared let the form down pretty badly next time out.



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