For the second year in a row, a triple- digit longshot has won a Kentucky Derby prep race at Fair Grounds. Ive Struck a Nerve, a 135-1 outsider, won Saturday's $400,000 Risen Star Stakes.
The Risen Star is the final local prep for the 100th running of the $1 million Louisiana Derby on March 30. Last year, Hero of Order won the Louisiana Derby at 105-1.
The original field of 15 entries was reduced to 12. He's Had Enough was scratched to run in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Al Stall Jr. scratched both Departing and Sunbean. Sunbean won the Gentilly Stakes on the Saturday program.
Ive Struck a Nerve, ridden by James Graham, was racing well off the pace that was being set by Proud Strike. Running second was Code West followed closely by Mylute and Oxbow.
On the far turn, Code West had the lead followed by 4-1 second pick Oxbow, Proud Strike and Mylute. Ive Struck a Nerve began his move around the turn for home.
Coming off the turn, Oxbow was first with Code West second and Mylute third as the rest of the field drew closer. Ive Struck a Nerve drew even with Code West inside the furlong pole.
The two 3-year-olds battled the last yards to the finish where Ive Struck a Nerve put his nose on the wire first. Palace Malice, the 5-1 co-third pick, got up for third followed by Oxbow, 3-2 favorite Normandy Invasion, Golden Soul, Mylute, Proud Strike, Bethel, Agent, Circle Unbroken and Hardrock Eleven.
The time for the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star was 1:44.52 on a fast track.
Part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" series, winning the Risen Star was worth 50 points.
Trained by Keith Desormeaux, Ive Struck a Nerve is owned by Big Chief Racing. The colt notched his second career victory and first in a stakes. The Risen Star win was worth $240,000 to bring the 3-year-old's earnings to $305,790 in nine starts.
"Matt Bryan (of Big Chief Racing) has invested heavily in me by getting me better horses to train," said Desormeaux. "He has placed a lot of confidence in me and my program and when you get a confidence booster like that it affects my other owners as well. The confidence seems to just run through the barn.
"This horse was one of the first horses I bought for him. In fact, he was the first 2-year-old I ever got for him. I don't know the whole story about how the horse got his name but it had something to do with him and his wife and I know they had a lot of fun naming him."
Ive Struck a Nerve won for the first time in his sixth career start last November at Fair Grounds and followed with a second in the Sugar Bowl Stakes. On Jan 19 he finished fourth to Orb in the Lecomte Stakes in New Orleans.
Ive Struck a Nerve paid $272.40, $110.60 and $42.40. Code West paid $8.80 and $5.60, and Palace Malice paid $4.60 to show.