International Star Takes Over Derby Points Standings

With a victory in the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds International Star guaranteed himself a starting spot in the gate for the Kentucky Derby and currently leads the Road to the Derby points standings with 71.

Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Miguel Mena, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus saved ground most of the trip, came up the rail in the stretch and edged clear late to win by a length over War Story. The winner returned $9.60 for the victory and the $2 exacta returned $42.20.

The Risen Star offered 50 points to the winner as part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. He earned 10 points for winning his previous start, the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, 10 for a victory in the Grey Stakes (G3) at Woodbine last October, and one point for a fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs last November.

In early Kentucky Derby betting the colt dropped to 16-1 after his Risen Star victory after being listed at 33-1 last week. His next start likely will come in the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 28.

The favorite in the Risen Star was Imperia, who finished a disappointing fifth. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the colt was making his first start since coming up a head short to El Kabeir in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

His price in Kentucky Derby odds jumped from 20-1 last week to generous odds of 40-1 after his poor outing.

The Risen Star and Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park were the first two Road to the Derby races to offer 50-20-10-5 points to the top four finishers. The previous Derby prep races including Sunday’s rescheduled Southwest (G2) at Oaklawn Park offered 10-4-2-1 points.

Itsaknockout was the winner of the Fountain of Youth thanks to a disqualification of Upstart, earning 50 points for the win and is now second in the Derby points standings with 50.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the colt won his first two career starts and was making his stakes debut in the Fountain of Youth. He finished 2¾ lengths behind Upstart, but the two exchanged a few bumps in the stretch and had to check when his rival drifted out on him, enough that the stewards decided to disqualify the winner.

Itsaknockout dropped to 16-1 in early Kentucky Derby wagering after being at odds of 40-1 last week. Among the Kentucky Derby horses, the colt took the most action since his win.

Upstart picked up 20 points and is now third in the points standings with 36. In his previous start the colt was an impressive winner of the Holy Bull (G2) by 5½ lengths. He is the co-second choice in early Derby betting at 12-1 along with Texas Red and Dortmund.

There are no Derby points races this weekend, but things heat up next week in a big way with three preps on tap.

On March 7 the winners of the $400,000 San Felipe (G2), $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and the $400,000 Gotham (G3) will stamp their ticket to the Run for the Roses.

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