NEW ORLEANS (AP) Gun Runner took the lead entering the stretch and held off challenges from Forevamo and Mo Tom to win the $400,000 Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds Race Course on Saturday.
Trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Florent Geroux, Gun Runner beat 40-1 long-shot Forevamo by a half-length in the prep race for Kentucky Derby hopefuls. The victory earned Gun Runner, owned by Ron Winchell, 50 qualifying points, which could be enough to gain entry in the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 7.
''That's the dream, right? The Kentucky Derby,'' Winchell said. ''He's been highly anticipated and a quality horse.''
For now, Winchell said he plans to enter Gun Runner in the Fair Grounds' marquee event on the March 26, the Louisiana Derby.
Gun Runner ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.94 and paid $12.20, $7 and $4.80. Forevamo returned $33.80 and $12.20, and Mo Tom paid $3 to show.
Mo Tom, the winner of the Lecomte Stakes in January, was last out of the gate and its late charge was slowed on the home stretch by a collision with Bistraya that cut one of his legs.
He's owned by Gayle Benson, the wife of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, and now has 22 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.
''It was really good until we got kind of wiped out,'' Mo Tom jockey Corey Lanerie said. '''I definitely thought he was the best horse today.''
Airoforce, the 7-5 favorite, settled near the back of the field and never mounted a challenge. He finished 10th.
''I don't know,'' Airoforce jockey Julien Leparoux said. ''He was traveling good and then he put his head up and didn't pick it up.''