Airoforce was the absolute favourite going in to the Risen Star Stakes, touting 8/5 odds and garnering $166,699 in action. The three-year old who was a hopeful Triple Crown contender never really showed up dropping to 10th out of the 13-horse field. Any hope for Mark Casse’s prize challenger seems lost at this point. The race was instead won by 5/1 outside shot Gun Runner, who’s owned by Winchell Thoroughbred and trained by Steven Asmussen.
Gun Runner paid out $12.20, $7.00 and $4.80 for the win. The biggest suprise at the Risen Star Stakes was undoubbtedly Forevamo, a 40/1 longshot who paid out $33.80 and $12.20 for the place. Second favourite Mo Tom showed with a payout of just $3.00 despite pulling in $118,413, the second most at the the marquee race from Fair Grounds.
The result from Gun Runner was snuffed out from some experts, but it still registers as an upset. The son of Candy Ride’s handlers were thrilled with the outcome. “That’s the dream, right – the Kentucky Derby,” said Ron Winchell. “He’s been highly anticipated and a quality horse. Right now the [Louisiana Derby] is the plan.” The 1 1/8th mile Louisiana Derby runs on March 26th.
Despite the third place finish, Mo Tom’s connections remained positive with the end result. “He ran a great race,” trainer Amoss stated at the presser. “He got his momentum stopped with about an eighth of a mile left in the race. If that doesn’t happen, I humbly think he would’ve won. But it did happen, and that’s part of horse racing.”
No matter how optimistic the community remains about the results of the 2016 Risen Star Stakes, the loss of Airoforce as a true contender at the Kentucky Derby will be heartbreaking. This was his worst showing in four races after winning the Kentucky Derby Jockey Club, the Bourbon Stakes (GR3) and his opening Maiden. Airoforce also ran an impressive second place at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. To put things simply, there was a ton of optimism surrounding Airoforce. All of that excitement is pretty much dead in the water after a completely uninspired run in the Risen Star Stakes.